Trade News Release
Friday, July 28, 2000
Contact: Frank Meilinger
OSHA TO CHARGE FOR SERVICES PROVIDED TO NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED TESTING LABORATORIES
Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) will pay fees for review of their applications and audits of their facilities beginning October 1, 2000, OSHA announced today.
Since 1997 Congress has authorized the agency to collect and retain fees for services provided to private sector laboratories that test and certify equipment used in the workplace and to use these fees to administer the NRTL program. Last August, OSHA proposed charging testing laboratories it evaluates to determine whether they meet the agency's criteria for recognition as NRTLs.
OSHA will charge fees for two types of services: (1) processing applications for the initial recognition of an organization as a NRTL, or for expansion or renewal of an existing NRTL's recognition; and (2) performing audits (post recognition reviews) of NRTLs to determine whether they continue to meet requirements for recognition. Since the inception of the NRTL program in 1988, OSHA has provided these services at no charge.
An organization applying for initial recognition as a NRTL must include both the application fee and on-site review ("assessment") fee with the application. An existing NRTL that is applying solely for an expansion or renewal of NRTL recognition need include only the application fee. OSHA will bill NRTLs for audits and for certain assessments after they are conducted.
Many of OSHA's safety standards require equipment or products used in the workplace to be tested and certified to help ensure that they can be used safely. Products or equipment that have been tested must have a certification mark. The employer may rely on the certification mark, which shows the equipment or product has been tested and certified in accordance with OSHA requirements. OSHA implemented the NRTL program to ensure that the testing and certification have been completed appropriately.
Currently there are 17 NRTLs operating 42 sites in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Far East. The NRTL program has grown significantly in the past few years, both in terms of numbers of laboratories and sites and in the number of test standards each NRTL has been approved to certify.
The size of the NRTL program and the amount of work involved in maintaining it have resulted in large costs for the agency, both in terms of human resources and in direct costs such as travel. For example, OSHA's goal is to audit every site once a year. This involves 42 annual visits, not only to locations in the U.S., but also to many foreign locations. Because international trade in many products OSHA requires to be tested and certified is increasing substantially, the agency anticipates there will be more applications for laboratories or sites in locations outside the U.S. Under terms of the Mutual Recognition Agreement with the European Union, a number of European laboratories, are expected to submit applications for NRTL recognition.
In addition to charging fees for its services, OSHA also is reducing the time allowed for public comment on Federal Register notices concerning recognition of a NRTL from 60 days to 30 days for initial recognition and to 15 days for expansions and renewals. Reviewers of the notice can request an extension of the comment period if they need more time.
The new NRTL fees go into effect October 1, 2000, and the public comment periods established by this final rule go into effect August 30, 2000. Information on fee schedules is included in the July 31, 2000, notice in the Federal Register.
The text of this news release is on the World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this news release will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.