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Labor Department Announces It Will Revise Overreaching OSHA Explosives Rule

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it will significantly revise a recent proposal for new “explosives safety” regulations that caused serious concern among gun owners.  OSHA had originally set out to update workplace safety regulations, but the proposed rules included restrictions that very few gun shops, sporting goods stores, shippers, or ammunition dealers could comply with.

 

Gun owners had filed a blizzard of negative comments urged by the NRA, and just a week ago, OSHA had already issued one extension for its public comment period at the request of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.  After continued publicity through NRA alerts and the outdoor media, and after dozens of Members of Congress expressed concern about its impact, OSHA has wisely decided to go back to the drawing board.

 

Working with the NRA, Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) planned to offer a floor amendment to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill this Wednesday when the House considers this legislation.  His amendment would have prohibited federal funds from being used to enforce this OSHA regulation.

 

Such an amendment is no longer necessary since Kristine A. Iverson, the Labor Department’s Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, sent Rep. Rehberg a letter, dated July 16, stating that it “was never the intention of OSHA to block the sale, transportation, or storage of small arms ammunition, and OSHA is taking prompt action to revise” this proposed rule to clarify the purpose of the regulation.  Future revisions to the standard "will be subject to substantial review and scrutiny to ensure that the revisions are prudent and the intent is clear," Iverson further said in her letter.

 

Also, working with the NRA, Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) gathered signatures from 25 House colleagues for a letter (http://www.nraila.org/images/oshaltr.pdf), to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao dated July 11, expressing concerns about this proposed OSHA rule. The letter called the proposal "an undue burden on a single industry where facts do not support the need outlined by this proposed rule" and "not feasible, making it realistically impossible for companies to comply with its tenets."

 

 The OSHA proposal would have defined “explosives” to include “black powder, … small arms ammunition, small arms ammunition primers, [and] smokeless propellant,” and treated these items the same as the most volatile high explosives.

 

Under the proposed rule, a workplace that contained even a handful of small arms cartridges, for any reason, would have been considered a “facility containing explosives” and therefore subject to many impractical restrictions.  For example, no one could carry “firearms, ammunition, or similar articles in facilities containing explosives … except as required for work duties.”  Obviously, this rule would make it impossible to operate any kind of gun store, firing range, or gunsmith shop.

 

The public comment period was closed on July 17. The Labor Department published notice (http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20071800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/E7-13925.htm) in the July 17 Federal Register announcing that it "intends to re-propose the Explosives NPRM at a later date in order to clarify the intent of the rulemaking."  The NRA will continue to closely monitor this ongoing situation to ensure that any future proposed regulations do not adversely affect law-abiding gun owners."

Read the letter to Cong. Rehberg from the Labor Dept.

 

Read OSHA's notice

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