OSHA Seeks Public Input on Comprehensive Emergency Response Standard

OSHA has published a Request for Information in today's Federal Register seeking input from the public to determine what action, if any, the agency should take to further address emergency response and preparedness. Comments will be accepted until Dec. 10, 2007.

"Elements of the health and safety for emergency responder are currently regulated by OSHA, primarily under six standards," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "Some of these standards were promulgated decades ago and none were designed as a comprehensive emergency response standard. Emergency responders often encounter significant hazards while on the job, and this agency wants to ensure it is doing everything possible to keep these vital employees safe and healthy while at work."

The six standards mentioned are: The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard; the personal protective equipment general requirements standard; the respiratory protection standard; the permit-required confined space standard; the fire brigade standard; and the bloodborne pathogens standard

In a news release, OSHA states that these current standards do not reflect all of the major improvements in safety and health practices that have already been accepted by the emergency response community and incorporated into industry consensus standards, therefore this request is intended to gather information about current thinking and practices relative to emergency responders and skilled support employees.

Comments may be submitted electronically at www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=19915.

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