OSHA Seeking Comments on Third Phase of Standards Improvement Process

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking comments until Feb. 20, 2007, on phase three of its Standards Improvement Project (SIPs III), the third in a series of rulemaking actions intended to improve and streamline OSHA standards and lessen regulatory burdens without reducing employee protections. An advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Dec. 21, 2006.

Through the SIPs III rulemaking, OSHA is seeking to improve its standards by revising confusing, outdated, duplicative, or inconsistent requirements. The revisions will help employers better understand their obligations, which will lead to increased compliance, ensure greater safety and health for employees, and reduce compliance costs and paperwork burdens.

In the ANPRM, changes being considered include revisions to eleven standards that OSHA has preliminarily identified to be addressed during the SIPs III rulemaking. OSHA is also asking for comments on updating medical testing and industrial hygiene sampling requirements in the various health standards. OSHA is also considering methods to make training requirements in both health and safety standards consistent.

The agency published two standards improvement project final rules, SIPs I in 1998 and SIPS II in 2005. SIPs I revised 147 provisions in 20 standards and saved $9,656,625 per year in compliance costs. SIPs II addressed 41 provisions in 21 standards, reduced compliance costs by $6,794,283 per year, and annual paperwork burdens by 210,105 hours.

Comments on the ANPRM must be submitted by Feb. 20, 2007, to: OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. S-778B, Room N2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20210. Comments may also be submitted via fax at (202) 693-1648 or electronically to http://ecomments.osha.gov.