Workplace Safety Rules

Regulatory Updates May Ease Administrative Burden

By: | February 3, 2014

Nancy Grover is the president of NMG Consulting and the Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected]

Employers should get a break, thanks to newly updated workplace safety rules. The U.S. Department of Labor announced it is updating or rescinding obsolete regulations and requirements.

“Creating a framework that ensures workers are safe and treated fairly is the right thing to do, and updating rules and standards is also the right thing to do,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “The rules announced maintain standards, lessen the burden on employers, and help grow our economy.”

The revised rules complement President Obama’s executive order to modernize the regulatory system and reduce unjustified regulatory burdens, the DOL said.

While three of the four updated rules pertain to outdated Foreign Labor Certification regulations, one updates and streamlines the standards for the use of mechanical power presses. That rule, along with a notice of proposed rulemaking announced by OSHA, revises requirements of the standard for mechanical power presses that punch, form, or assemble metal or other materials.

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“Workers can be exposed to hand, finger, or arm injuries — often resulting in amputation — if parts of a press are worn, damaged, or not operating properly,” OSHA said. “The new rule will eliminate a requirement for employers to document mandatory weekly inspections of these presses while clarifying the responsibility of employers to perform and document any maintenance or repairs necessary to protect the safety of workers who operate them.”

The department estimates employers will save more than 600,000 hours of unnecessary paperwork. The rule takes effect Feb. 18 unless OSHA has received “a significant adverse comment” in which case the agency will continue the notice and comment component of the rulemaking by withdrawing the direct final rule.

OSHA announced it will also align the existing standard’s maintenance and repair provisions to the American National Standards Institute standard for safety requirements for mechanical power presses. “This standard would explicitly state that maintenance and repair must be completed before the mechanical power press is operated and, in keeping with the ANSI standard, employers would certify maintenance and repair for the entire machine rather than for certain parts of the power press.”

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]