On May 26, 2011, OSHA announced a forthcoming final rule that will streamline and simplify OSHA standards and reduce employer burdens. The rule will impose no new requirements, and thus employers will need to take no steps to comply.
This rule updates OSHA regulations in keeping with the goals of President Obama’s Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.” The executive order was issued on January 18th with the stated goal of simplifying standards and reducing unnecessary burdens. Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels stated that “OSHA estimates that the final rule, without reducing employee protection, will result in an annual cost savings to employers exceeding $43 million and significant reductions in paperwork burden hours.” The White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs noted that the new rule will remove “over 1.9 million hours of redundant reporting burdens on employers.”
Specifically, the new rule will make several changes to OSHA’s existing respiratory protection standard, including aligning air cylinder testing requirements for self-contained breathing apparatuses with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s regulations, clarifying that aftermarket cylinders meet National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (”NIOSH”) quality assurance requirements, and clarifying that the provisions of Appendix D, which contains information for employees using respirators when not required by the standard, are mandatory if the employee chooses to use a respirator.
The new rule will also update the definition of “potable water” to be consistent with the current EPA definition instead of the outdated Public Health Service Corps definition, remove the outdated requirement that hand dryers use warm air, and remove two medical records requirements from the commercial diving standard. The slings standard will also be updated and streamlined to require that employers use only slings marked with the manufacturers’ loading information. Finally, the new rule will delete a number of requirements that employers transmit exposure and medical records to NIOSH, since NIOSH had concluded that these records do not serve a useful research purpose.
The final rule will be published soon in the Federal Register.