News Release USDL: 97-111
Friday, March 28, 1997
Contact: Frank Kane, (202) 219-8151
OSHA Issues Final Rule On Abatement Of Safety And Health
Hazards, Expects To Save Employers $6 Million
Both workers and employers are expected to benefit from a
new rule issued today by the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) on steps to abate workplace hazards.
The new rule, which is expected to save employers $6 million
a year, requires businesses to notify OSHA and inform employees
that they have abated workplace hazards identified by
According to Gregory R. Watchman, acting assistant secretary
of labor for occupational safety and health, the new regulation
will ensure that workers are fully informed about serious hazards
and actions taken to eliminate them. He said OSHA also expects
to save on resources it now expends to verify hazard abatement.
The new rule eliminates burdens that current verification
procedures impose on employers. Where employers eliminate
hazards during the course of an inspection, OSHA will not require
them to prepare and submit abatement certification documents in
these cases. Employers also will not have to document actions
taken to correct relatively minor ("other-than-serious")
violations as well as many violations classified as "serious."
"Employees will benefit in two ways," Watchman said. "They
will know about specific actions being taken to abate the more
serious hazards. They also will be warned about citations issued
for more serious violations involving movable equipment. This is
important information for working with tools and machines
identified as hazardous."
In addition to money saved by business, OSHA and its state
partners will save an estimated $4.5 million annually as a result
of reductions in follow-up inspections and other activity by
enforcement staff to ascertain whether hazards have been repaired
In May 1991, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a
report to Congress in which it said that OSHA's policies and
procedures for determining whether hazards were abated had
certain limitations. GAO said that the policies and procedures
impeded the agency's identification of employers who had failed
to abate the safety and health hazards for which they were cited.
GAO recommended that OSHA issue a regulation to correct this
deficiency and that this regulation emphasize the abatement of
The new regulation will apply to all cited employers with
workplaces covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act,
including general industry, construction, maritime and
Nine of the 25 states and territories with their own
occupational safety and health plans already have some elements
of the new abatement verification rule in place. State-plan
states will have six months to adopt enforceable rules or
policies comparable to OSHA's new regulation. These states and
territories include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii,
Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada,
New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Virgin Islands, Washington
and Wyoming. Connecticut and New York, whose plans cover public
employees only, also must adopt comparable regulations.
The effective date of the regulation is May 30, 1997.
OSHA plans an extensive outreach program to inform employers
and workers about the regulation. It will include distribution
of materials through the OSHA Home Page on the World Wide Web on
the Internet, the OSHA Publications Office, and regional, area
and state-plan offices, as well as presentations to employer and
Notice of the final rule will be published in the Monday,
March 31, 1997, Federal Register. The regulation also will be
available on the OSHA Home Page on the World Wide Web on the
Internet at http://www.osha.gov./.
(Editors: Key provisions of the new rule are outlined in the
attached fact sheet.)
FACT SHEET ON HAZARD ABATEMENT CERTIFICATION RULE
Under the final regulation:
Violations that are immediately abated require no
For other-than-serious violations, and for many serious
violations, only a simple abatement letter is required to verify
abatement. A sample format for this letter is provided in an
appendix. OSHA estimates that 90 percent of all abatements will
require only this simple letter.
Employers are required to provide additional
documentation (proof) of abatement only for the more serious
violations (willful, repeat, and those serious violations
specified by OSHA in the citation).
Abatement plans and progress reports may be required for
more serious violations with abatement periods that exceed 90
Affected employees must be informed about specific
For movable equipment that have serious hazards, a copy
of the citation or a warning tag, containing information that
conforms with a sample tag supplied by OSHA, must be placed on
the cited equipment to alert employees to the presence of the
hazard. For hand-held equipment, the tag must be applied upon
receipt of the citation. For nonhand-held equipment, the tag
must be applied before the equipment is moved.
The regulation provides examples of abatement documents and