Trade News Release
Wednesday, Aug.18, 1999
CONTACT: Frank Kane
PHONE: (202) 693-1999
OSHA PROPOSES TO CHARGE FEES FOR SERVICES AGENCY PROVIDES TO NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED TESTING LABORATORIES
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing to charge fees for the services it provides to its Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs), which test and certify certain equipment that will be used in the workplace.
Congress has authorized the agency to charge the private sector laboratories fees for such services.
OSHA is proposing to charge fees for (1) processing applications for the initial recognition of an organization as an 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 to the NRTL.
Many of OSHA's safety standards require equipment or products that are going to be 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 on them. The employer may rely on the certification mark, which shows the equipment or product has been testified and certified in accordance with OSHA requirements. OSHA implemented the NRTL program to ensure that the testing and certification has been done appropriately.
Currently there are 16 NRTLs operating 40 sites in the U.S., Canada 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 included in their recognition.
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 40 annual visits, not only to locations in the U.S., but also to many foreign locations. Because international trade in many of the types of 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 a recent 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 is proposing to reduce the public comment period on the preliminary Federal Register notices that the agency must publish concerning recognition of an NRTL from 60 days to 30 days for initial recognition and to 15 days for expansions and renewals. Reviewers of the notice can always request an extension of the comment period if they need more time for presenting comments.
Written comments on OSHA's proposal must be received on or before October 4, 1999. Information how to submit comments is included in the Wednesday, Aug. 18, 1999, notice in the Federal Register on OSHA's proposal.
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The text of this news release is on the Internet 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.