OSHA has decided to stick with its current system for ensuring the safety of electrical products in the workplace, turning down a bid from the European Union for the agency to adoptitssystem.
The announcement comes after an EU request that OSHA explore the possibility of adopting theSupplier's Declaration of Conformity("SDoC"). Under SDoC, manufacturers declare that their products meet safety requirements before placing these products on the market, thus requiring EU governments to verify whether products are safety compliantafterthey already are on the market.
OSHA requires employers to use electrical devices tested and certified by independent testing companies recognized by the agency. These tests must be conducted before manufacturers or distributors place them on the market and employers use them in the workplace.
"OSHA's current system is a reliable and cost-effective approach to ensuring the safety of American workers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "A request for information did not reveal compelling evidence to abandon this system."
In 2008, in response to the EU's request for the U.S. to adopt an SDoC system, OSHA issued a request for information ("RFI"). It was the second RFI on this issue published by OSHA in the last five years. By statute, OSHA must demonstrate, based on substantial evidence, that its safety regulations and standards will provide or maintain a high degree of protection for U.S. workers. After reviewing comments submitted in response to the RFI, OSHA determined that the burden required for it to revise its standards was not met.
OSHA also is not convinced that the cost of administering such a system is compatible with its current budget. Based on limited information obtained from post-market surveillance costs of two EU countries, OSHA estimated that implementing an SDoC system throughout the U.S. would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. OSHA also currently lacks explicit legislative authority to implement the enforcement powers required for an effective SDoC system, including issuing product recalls and bans, assessing fines, and imposing criminal penalties.