Health and Safety Program Rule Expensive

Jan. 22, 1999
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OSHA's draft safety and health program rule could cost small businesses 10 to 20 times more than the agency estimated, according to a report released under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA).

The proposed rule covers every industry, and requires employers to establish safety and health programs that comply with all OSHA standards and the General Duty Clause. It has been widely criticized by industry, which believes it is too vague and cumbersome to implement.

The report on the draft safety and health program rule from the Small Business Advocacy Review Panel, which includes representatives from OSHA, recommends that the agency reevaluate the rule's economic impact and revise its regulatory flexibility analysis. In addition, it recommends that OSHA include the legal costs small business employers could incur for compliance advice. Estimates on the rule's program-related costs should be added to the preamble, and OSHA needs to clarify the basis for its conclusion that state health and safety programs are effective in reducing job-related injury and illness, the report said.

The panel recommended including a non-regulatory guidance program on safety and health programs that leaves regulation to the states; scaling down the scope of the program to only certain industries; and allowing regulation for large employers and a guidance program for smaller employers.

The report was completed by a panel of 18 representatives from small business and staff from OSHA, the Small Business Administration and the Office of Management and Budget, as required by SBREFA. A copy of the report can be obtained by calling (202) 693-2350.

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