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“Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself”

The October 15 "U.S.-EU High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum" was meant to be a cheery affair, but there were cracks in the façade that couldn't be covered over.  Yes, cast against the larger goal of addressing barriers to Transatlantic trade, regulators on either side of the ocean are now not only more aware of each other, they can and do communicate with each other regularly. 

But the various business, consumer and legislative dialogues haven't really yielded much - the real stabs at cooperation mostly limited to the respective executive branch levels, with everyone else clamoring for more information on what's going on.In this respect, the senior officials from the Enterprise Directorate in Brussels and Office of Management and Budget in Washington breezily praised each other while discussing their plans for the next six months, which will include a joint study on the role of international standards in regulation plus four case studies on topics yet to be determined...  And I became a little nervous.  After all, "international standards" has become an extremely loaded term, the bread-and-butter of a worldwide EU-sponsored effort to foist European standards (which somehow become "international" ones through the miracle of each continental country still having a national vote) and regulations on the rest of the world. 

Does OMB know it might be playing into Brussels' hands?I was the enfant terrible at one of these meetings last spring, making an angry comment that broke up the artificial harmony, but this time I didn't need to make a peep: 

  • How will you choose the topics for those four case studies? the moderator asked, to which "yet-to-be-determined" was the reply.  (We wouldn't mind the EU's directive on chemicals, among several others.) 
  • If you are going to be talking about standards, you should check with us to make sure you use the correct vocabulary and frame the issues appropriately, correctly noted the representative from the American National Standards Institute.
  • What is it with this electrical safety issue, asked someone from a U.S. testing lab.  We have a financial crisis as well as various food and toy safety issues that go back to a lack of adequate regulation, and here's life being given to an EU request for electrical equipment supplier's declaration of conformity in the U.S.  This is all about politics, not public safety.  In response, the OMB official noted that an Occupational Safety and Health Administration request for public comment on the whole matter is about to come out (see ), providing an opportunity for parties to express their joy or displeasure.
  • But, another US-based testing lab rep piled on, despite there really not being much support for electrical SDOC in this country, you've given a measure of credence to the EU on this by even agreeing to talk about it - the system here isn't broken.  (A decade ago Washington ignored the concerns of U.S. stakeholders and concluded a problematic electrical safety mutual recognition agreement that has since been withdrawn.)  Now we learn that you may be doing the same for their whole "international standards" thing.

I couldn't have orchestrated it any better if I had tried, and - while there's much more work ahead on this front -- took the metro back with a big smile.

Posted 10-20-2008 7:43 AM by Meakem, John


osha, electrical safety | Bookmarks URL wrote osha, electrical safety | Bookmarks URL
on 10-26-2008 10:31 AM

Pingback from  osha, electrical safety | Bookmarks URL

Electrical markers wrote re: “Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself”
on 12-08-2009 1:21 AM

Ouch! What a sting. They completely deserve to be cited and be made aware of their violation by being fined. It really is a timely reminder to other electrical companies that they must have fool proof safety policies in place so their workplace is safe and that they do not get hit with a citation from OSHA. As can be seen here, they were actually very simple things and could have easily been avoided. It looks like O’Connell Electric did not bother locking out and tagging out the circuit so that their employees knew not to re-energize it. This is one of the first things I get my employees to do before they start their work. I have a great range of tags that I get from LEM Products. They provide me with quality standardized tags and also customized tags where required. They make sure that we meet OSHA regulations. Working with LEM Products is a pleasure and,  because of their products, we have absolutely no problems. You should look at their full catalog of lockout tags at to make sure you stay safe.

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