Friday, October 29, 2010

Regulatory Cost Escalation: OSHA

First thing: the OSHA proposal will not actually do any good. Second thing: it WILL keep OSHA bureaucrats busy for a long, long time, and it WILL result in costs to the private sector.

Here's the basic outline:

...since 1983, OSHA has accepted the use of personal hearing protection as an adequate means of reducing noise exposure, in situations where personal protective equipment (PPE) is, in fact, adequate (that is, it meets the federal standard for protection against noise exposure). An alternative means of reducing noise exposure is to reduce the noise itself, through equipment retooling, sound dampening, etc. OSHA has generally declined to fine employers who did not take such noise-reduction measures, as long as the use of PPE in their workplaces provided adequate protection for workers.

But OSHA has filed notice in the Federal Register that it will no longer operate on that basis. It will instead begin assuming that what employers should be doing is reducing noise in the workplace in preference to relying on PPE for workers. It will consider cost to the employer as a mitigating factor only if, in its judgment, the cost would compromise an employer’s ability to remain in business.

Nixon Peabody [the lawfirm providing most of this info] points out that this is likely to cost a lot of businesses a lot of money – and furthermore, that it is unclear from the get-go what standard OSHA will use to determine the “feasibility” of taking material noise-reduction measures.

So. OSHA has decided that what works is no longer a viable test. Now, OSHA will determine--by some method yet to be determined, what WILL work--for OSHA--in the future, cost be damned.

OSHA will now be regulating what OSHA considers to be "noise pollution," after 27 years where there have been no problems (or those problems have been resolved to everyone's satisfaction.)

HT: OptimConserv

1 comment:

Beer, Bicycles and the VRWC said...

As a Safety professional, I can assure you that this is seriously bad and expensive. Yes, the preference is to use engineering controls, but the cost may outweigh the benefit. It's just what it is. If OSHA mandates this, it will destroy what's left of US manufacturing.