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GAO to OSHA: Re-examine testing-lab accreditation process

December 19, 2012

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Washington – OSHA’s process for accrediting Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories is lengthy, and the agency should implement new strategies to improve timeliness, according to a new Government Accountability Office report (.pdf file).

OSHA’s NRTL program is tasked with accrediting organizations to test and approve products that meet consensus-based safety standards. The accreditation is valid for five years, after which reapproval by OSHA is necessary.

In its report, issued Dec. 11, GAO found OSHA sometimes takes years longer than its desired time frame of up to 18 months to issue approvals. In 12 of 29 applications currently awaiting a final decision, the process has exceeded the five-year period for which the accreditation decision would be valid.

GAO recommended OSHA align its program design with its program mission and resources, provide clear guidance and timely communication to stakeholders, and develop performance measures and use data to identify inefficiencies.

In response to the report, OSHA administrator David Michaels said the agency agreed with the recommendations and would take up plans to address them.

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