WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Joseph I. Lieberman (ID-Conn.) today praised the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) decision to withdraw its proposed rule change regarding workplace noise exposure in light of a letter the senators sent to U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis expressing their concerns with the new regulation.  In their letter, Senators Snowe and Lieberman, Co-Chairs of the Senate Task Force on Manufacturing, noted that OSHA published the change as a “proposed interpretation,” rather than submitting the proposal for a notice and comment rulemaking, which allowed the agency to circumvent critical input from small business stakeholders.

“OSHA’s proposed change would have added to the staggering regulatory burden confronting small manufacturers, which recent research shows face a compliance cost per employee of more than double that of medium-sized and large firms,” said Senator Snowe, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  “This proposed change was a product of insufficient stakeholder outreach and exemplifies the critical importance of evaluating the economic impact of all proposed and existing regulations before they are promulgated to ensure their implementation will not impose unnecessarily adverse affects on the very businesses or industries for which they are intended.  Ensuring the sustainability of federal regulations will undoubtedly invigorate job creation, which is why I plan to introduce legislation requiring all federal agencies to consult with small business review panels prior to proposing new federal rules to devise the best possible policy.  I commend the agency for withdrawing this flawed proposal, and pledge to work with OSHA on ways to continue improving workplace safety without unnecessarily burdening America’s employers.”

“I applaud OSHA’s decision to retract this proposed interpretation, which I felt would have hindered many small manufacturers’ ability to compete in today’s global economy.”  Lieberman said.  “It is my hope that OSHA will carry through with its pledge to work together with businesses, workers, and public health professionals to develop a standard that protects workers from occupational hearing loss while minimizing the costs to small business,” Sen. Lieberman said.

The senators’ letter may be accessed here, and OSHA’s release may be found here.