October 20, 2008 The Pump Handle 0Comment

A long awaited OSHA proposed rule on crane safety was published in the Federal Register on Oct 9.  The current OSHA safety standards on cranes and derricks dates back to at least 1971, and these proposed changes have been in the works for 10 years.  I’ve criticized OSHA’s Asst. Secretary for the deadly delay in proposing this rule, and it is indeed good news that the proposal is now in the public comment phase of the rulemaking process.  The comment period ends on December 8.

I noticed something strange, however, in OSHA’s news release about the proposal.  There was not a peep about the estimated 55 lives saved annually with improved standard.  In fact, there was practically nothing about why this rule is critically important to workers’ health and safety.  Instead, the news release contains this wierd paragraph that attempts to justify the agency’s delinquency in getting out the rule:

“…as required by law, OSHA has conducted a regulatory flexibility analysis, small business review and paperwork burden analysis of the proposed rule. In addition, OSHA was required to write a preamble to the regulatory proposal that explains in detail the purpose and application of the proposed standard. That preamble is almost 1,000 pages.”

Why would OSHA call attention to the number of preamble pages (which is actually 200 in the Federal Register version) when it could emphasize the monetized annual benefit of $406 million compared to an annual cost of $123 million?   That’s a huge estimated economic AND social return for this safety improvement.  You’d think Asst. Secretary Foulke and Labor Secretary Chao would want to shout it from the rooftops.   But…no, not this crowd.

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