DOL announces rules to update regulations and decrease burden on businesses
Rules modernize the regulatory system
By Jesse Lawder
The U.S. Department of Labor announced four rules designed to reduce unnecessary burdens on employers by updating or rescinding obsolete regulations and requirements. A rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration updates and streamlines the standards for the use of mechanical power presses while the remaining three rules from the Employment and Training Administration rescind outdated Foreign Labor Certification regulations for the H-2A, F-1 and H-1A programs. The rules complement President Obama’s executive order 13610 to modernize the regulatory system and reduce unjustified regulatory burdens.
“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 today maintain standards, lessen the burden on employers and help grow our economy.”
The OSHA rule, along with a companion notice of proposed rulemaking, revises requirements of OSHA’s standard for mechanical power presses, which punch, form or assemble metal or other materials. 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. 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. Removing the weekly inspection and test certifications will reduce 613,600 hours of unnecessary paperwork burden on employers. The final rule will be effective Feb.18, 2014, unless OSHA receives a significant adverse comment by Dec. 20, 2013. If the agency receives a significant adverse comment, the accompanying notice of proposed rulemaking will allow the agency to continue the notice-and-comment component of the rulemaking by withdrawing the direct final rule. Individuals may submit comments electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Submissions may also be sent via facsimile or mail.
In addition, OSHA will 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. See Federal Register notice at www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/11/20/2013-27695/record-requirements-in-the-mechanical-power-presses-standard for more details.
The Office of Foreign Labor Certification within the Employment and Training Administration announced three additional final rules rescinding obsolete regulations.
The first is the Direct Final Rule for the ETA Labor Certification Process for Logging Employment and Non-H-2A Agricultural Employment. This final rule rescinds the regulations found at 20 CFR 655 Subpart C, which established regulations for employers in the logging industry. Employers seeking to temporarily employ foreign workers in logging operations are now governed by the regulations in Subpart B applicable to H-2A agricultural work and the Subpart C has no force and effect. See Federal Register notice at www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/11/20/2013-27693/labor-certification-process-for-logging-employment-and-non-h-2a-agricultural-employment for more details.
The second is the Direct Final Rule for the ETA Attestation Process for Employers Using F-1 Students in Off-Campus Work. This final rule rescinds the regulations found at 20 CFR 655 subparts J and K, which provided rules governing employers seeking to hire F-1 foreign students as part-time workers off-campus. These subparts became obsolete after the authorizing statute and its two-year extension expired in 1996. Accordingly, the Department of Labor is taking this action to remove regulations that no longer have force and effect. See Federal Register notice at www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/11/20/2013-27685/attestation-process-for-employers-using-f-1-students-in-off-campus-work for more details.
The third is the Direct Final Rule for the ETA Removal of Attestation Process for Facilities Using H-1A Registered Nurses Subparts D and E Regulations. This final rule rescinds the regulations found at 20 CFR 655 Subparts D and E, which provided rules governing health care facilities using nonimmigrant foreign workers as registered nurses under the H-1A visa program. These subparts became obsolete after the authorizing statute and all extensions expired fully on Aug. 31, 2001.Accordingly, the department is taking this action to remove regulations that no longer have force and effect. See Federal Register notice at www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/11/20/2013-27683/removal-of-attestation-process-for-facilities-using-h-1a-registered-nurses for more details.
More information on the department’s visa programs is available at www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov.
About the Author
Jesse Lawder is the Special Assistant at U.S. Department of Labor.