Workers who use old industrial equipment to clean and disinfect their workplaces could soon be subject to a fine for failing to follow an old-style safety protocol.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which regulates manufacturing, announced Friday that it will no longer require companies to test the equipment before sending it to a third party.
Instead, companies will have to test for the hazards posed by their equipment and ensure that their workers are safe when doing so.
The rule comes as workers in some parts of the country are trying to revive their livelihoods after years of declining factory employment and an economic downturn.
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a nationwide mandatory testing program, according to the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety.
Industrial inspections, which are common in manufacturing and require workers to report serious problems at their workplaces, have been on the decline in recent years as companies have shifted to digital technology.
In a statement, the American Society of Industrial and Labor Relations said that the proposed rule is a “historic step forward” and called for a nationwide test program that would be mandatory for all manufacturers, except for small firms.
The proposal also calls for mandatory testing at all manufacturing facilities, except those used for industrial inspection.
But some manufacturers may opt not to test their equipment.
In addition to being required to test, companies must report all injuries to workers and equipment.
If they do not, the agency said they will face a $200,000 fine and six months in jail.