OSHA Standards Changes Estimated to Save Employers Millions of Hours, Dollars

OSHA claims its new final rule, “Standards Improvement Project – Phase III,” can reduce employers’ paperwork burden by 1.85 million hours annually; help simply and streamline standards; and save employers in excess of $43 million annually – all without reducing worker protections.

The rule was published in the Federal Register June 8 and does not include any new requirements for employers. It will update OSHA’s standards and identify requirements for revision based on an agency review, comments from the public and recommendations from an Office of Management and Budget report.

“The final 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that periodically reviews OSHA regulations with the goal of improving and eliminating those that are confusing, outdated, duplicative or inconsistent,” explained OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels.

According to the Federal Register notice, “OSHA believes that improving these standards will help employers to better understand their obligations, promote safety and health for employees, lead to increased compliance, and reduce compliance costs.”

Notable outcomes of the rule will include:

  • 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 NIOSH quality assurance requirements; and clarifying that Appendix D provisions are mandatory when employees who are not required to use a respirator under the standard choose to do so.
  • Updating the definition of the term “potable water” to be consistent with the current EPA standards, removing the outdated requirement that hand dryers use warm air and removing two medical record requirements from the commercial-diving standard.
  • Deleting a number of requirements for employers to transmit exposure and medical records to NIOSH, thus saving NIOSH significant costs to store and maintain records that did not serve a useful research purpose.
  • Updating and streamlining the slings standards by requiring employers only to use slings marked with manufacturers’ loading information.

This rule goes into effect July 8.

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