The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the forthcoming release of a new rule that is aimed at streamlining and simplifying standards while reducing employer burdens.
“We estimate that the final rule, without reducing employee protection, will result in annual cost savings to employers exceeding $43 million and significant reductions in paperwork burden hours,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels.
The new rule will result in several changes to OSHA’s existing respiratory protection standard, including aligning air cylinder testing requirements for self-contained breathing apparatuses with U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, clarifying that aftermarket cylinders meet National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health quality assurance requirements and clarifying that the provisions of Appendix D, which contains information for employees using respirators when not required under the standard, are mandatory if the employee chooses to use a respirator.
Other changes to result from the new rule will include updating the definition of the term “potable water” to be consistent with the current Environmental Protection Agency standards instead of the former and outdated Public Health Service Corps definition, removing the outdated requirement that hand dryers use warm air because new technology allows employers to use hand-drying products that do not involve hot or warm air and removing two medical record requirements from the commercial-diving standard because that standard no longer requires medical examinations.
Updates also will include deleting a number of requirements for employers to transmit exposure and medical records to NIOSH, thus saving NIOSH significant costs to store and maintain the records. According to NIOSH, these records did not serve a useful research purpose. The slings standards also will be updated and streamlined by requiring that employers use only slings marked with manufacturers’ loading information.
There will not be any new requirements set by this rule, so employers will be able to comply with it immediately, according to Michaels.
The rule is the third in OSHA’s Standards Improvement Projects initiative that periodically reviews OSHA regulations with the goal of improving and eliminating those that are confusing, outdated, duplicative or inconsistent.
The project was brought about by the goals of the president’s Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” issued Jan. 18 to simplify standards and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.