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June 24, 2011

New OSHA Rule Could Save Employers Millions

OSHA just announced a final rule that simplifies standards and reduces employer burdens - to the tune of an estimated $43 million in employer cost savings. The published rule will help keep OSHA standards up-to-date and better enable employers to comply with their regulatory obligations. It creates no new requirements for employers.

"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that periodically reviews OSHA regulations with the goal of improving and eliminating those that are confusing, outdated, duplicative or inconsistent," said OSHA head David Michaels. "OSHA estimates 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."

PPE Respirator signsThe 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. Other changes will include updating the definition of the term "potable water" to be consistent with the current Environmental Protection Agency, removing the outdated requirement that hand dryers use warm air, and removing two medical record requirements from the commercial-diving standard.

Updates also will include deleting a number of requirements for employers to transmit exposure and medical records to NIOSH. The slings standards also will be updated and streamlined by requiring that employers use only slings marked with manufacturers' loading information. Because no new requirements are set by this rule, employers can comply with it immediately.

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