OSHA Raises Fees for Services Provided To Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories

Fees for certification and other services the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides to nationally recognized testing laboratories will be increasing to cover rising costs, the agency said in a Feb. 25 final rule, and prepayment will be required.

OSHA made the changes, the third revision to the regulations (29 C.F.R. 1910.7) since the fees were instituted in 2000, to account for rising personnel costs, to improve the timeliness of application processing, and to make the program more self-supportive, as required by Office of Management and Budget circulars, the agency said in the final rule published in the Federal Register (76 Fed. Reg. 10,500).

Nationally recognized laboratories test and certify safety equipment and other products as required by Occupational Safety and Health Act standards. Currently, 15 laboratories operate at nearly 50 sites around the world.

“Because work on ancillary activities grew so much faster than program resources over the last several years, OSHA has less time available for application processing and audits than was the case in 2000,” the agency said. “Moreover, because existing fees only recoup the cost of time spent on core services, OSHA is recovering a dwindling percentage of the [national recognized testing lab] program costs.”

The changes will go into effect March 28. Applications filed before March 28 are considered pending applications and will be subject to the previous fee schedule, according to Jason Surbey, an agency spokesman.

OSHA proposed the revisions in 2009 (39 OSHR 1045, 12/10/09).

Revised Fee Schedule.

Because the revised approach results in a large fee increase for existing labs and pending applicants, OSHA said it will phase in over three years increases greater than $200.

Grandfathered labs will see a 33 percent increase in the first year of implementation, a similar increase the next year, and the remaining increase in the third year, it added.

Under the new fee schedule effective March 28, initial reviews of applications for certification as a nationally recognized testing laboratory will cost $17,749. On-site audits will cost $4,240 per person, per site, per day, plus travel expenses, compared with $2,680 plus travel expenses.

Applicants seeking initial certification that file before March 28 would pay fees based on the previous fee schedule--a $5,100 initial review fee and $8,890 initial assessment fee, for a total of $13,990.

Other revisions include $12,080 for a final report on an initial application and publication of the accompanying Federal Register notice, compared with $8,420 under the previous schedule; $4,580 for the renewal or expansion of an application and publication of the notice if OSHA performs an on-site inspection compared to $3,190 under the previous schedule; and $2,740 for the renewal or expansion of an application and publication of the notice if OSHA does not perform an inspection compared to $1,190 under the previous schedule.

Advance Collection of Fees.

The rule also requires all laboratories applying for national recognition by OSHA to pay any relevant fees when submitting their materials.

Currently under OSHA regulations, nationally recognized labs paid review fees when submitting an application and prepaid for onsite assessments of initial application, but paid the remainder only after the after the agency performed its services.

Federal rules require, however, that any payments made after the end of the fiscal year in which an application was processed be forfeited to a general fund of the federal government. That system resulted in a loss of some funds for the program, OSHA said.

By Greg Hellman

OSHA's final rule on nationally recognized testing laboratories is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=sbra-8eju8b.