Proposed OSHA Regulation Threatens Firearm and Ammunition Industry

Alert from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, NSSF -- July 2, 2007:

Proposed OSHA Regulation Threatens
Firearm and Ammunition Industry

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the government agency charged with assuring the safety and health of America's workers, is proposing a regulatory rule affecting the manufacturing, transportation and storage of small arms ammunition, primers and smokeless propellants.

As written, the proposed rule would force the closure of nearly all ammunition manufacturers and force the cost of small arms ammunition to skyrocket beyond what the market could bear—essentially collapsing our industry. This is not an exaggeration. The cost to comply with the proposed rule for the ammunition industry, including manufacturer, wholesale distributors and retailers, will be massive and easily exceed $100 million. For example, ammunition and smokeless propellant manufacturers would have to shut down and evacuate a factory when a thunderstorm approached and customers would not be allowed within 50 feet of any ammunition (displayed or otherwise stored) without first being searched for matches or lighters.

NSSF and SAAMI have already had a preliminary meeting with OSHA officials to begin the process of explaining to them the major problems this proposed rule presents for all levels of the firearms and ammunition industry. Furthermore, NSSF and SAAMI are each seeking a 60 day extension of the public comment period (currently scheduled to expire July 12).

NSSF is urging all retailers to contact OSHA directly and request a 60-day extension of the public comment period. Retailers should inform OSHA that the proposed rule constitutes a "significant regulatory action" as defined in Executive Order 12866 (1993) Section 3(f)(1) in that it will clearly "adversely affect in a material way" the retail sector of the firearms and ammunition industry, productivity, competition and jobs and that the annual compliance cost for all retailers of ammunition will far exceed $100 million dollars.

Click here for a template letter. If you choose to draft your own letter, the reference line must read as follows:

RE: Docket No. OSHA–2007–0032
Request to Extend Public Comment Period and Request for Hearing on
"Significant Regulatory Action" as Defined in Executive Order 12866

Please fax the letter to: 202-693-1648 (include the docket number and Department of Labor/OSHA on the cover sheet and in the reference section of your letter).

Please e-mail the letter by visiting: http://www.regulations.gov and following the submission instructions.

 

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Sample letter:

 

 

[Insert Date]


OSHA Docket Office
Docket No. OSHA–2007–0032
U.S. Department of Labor
Room N–2625 200
Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210

RE: Docket No. OSHA–2007–0032
Request to Extend Public Comment Period and Request for Hearing on

“Significant Regulatory Action” as Defined in Executive Order 12866



Dear Secretary Chao:

 

I am writing to request an extension for public comment set to expire on July 12, 2007 for Preliminary & Initial General Observations on OSHA Explosives Proposed Rule (29 CFR Part 1910) - Published at Federal Register Vo. 72, No. 71, at P. 18792 (April 13, 2007).

 

After reviewing the proposed regulations it is my belief that the proposed rule is a "significant regulatory action" as defined in Executive Order 12866 (1993) Sec. 1(f)(1) in that it will clearly "adversely affect in a material way" the retail sector of the firearms and ammunition industry, productivity, competition and jobs and that the annual compliance cost for all retailers of ammunition will far exceed $100 million dollars.

 

Below is a bulleted list of what I am most concerned about:

 

  • Massive Costs: The cost to comply with the proposed rule for the ammunition industry, including manufacturer, wholesale distributors and retailers, will be massive and easily exceed $100 million. For example, ammunition and smokeless propellant manufacturers would have to shut down and evacuate a factory when a thunderstorm approached. The proposal mistakenly states that this is an industry standard practice. A retailer would have to do likewise. Thus retailers, such as Wal-Mart, selling ammunition would have to close down and evacuate customers. This is simply not realistic.

 

  • Exacerbate Ammunition Shortage to DoD and Law Enforcement: The proposed rule has major National security and homeland defense implications. There is already a shortage of ammunition for our troops and law enforcement. The Department of Defense has contracted to purchase ammunition from the commercial market because the Department's arsenal cannot meet demand. The rule will delay production and massively increase prices, making the ammunition shortage even more severe. In addition, the rule applies to the DoD arsenal, which is run by a commercial manufacturer under DoD contract.


  • Unrealistic Assumptions: Portions of the proposed rule are not feasible and cannot realistically be complied with. The concept of evacuation to "a safe remote location" in case of thunderstorms or accident is untenable to manufacturers and retailers and is in disagreement with the DoD Safety Manual for Ammunition and Explosives.

 

  • One Size Fits All Approach: The provisions in this proposal treat all explosives as if they have the same degree of hazard to employees. Retail outlets for small arms ammunition, primers and smokeless propellants, including massive facilities such as Wal-Mart, must maintain a fifty-foot barrier and specifically authorize all customers to enter only after searching them for matches or lighters (c.3.iii.A) and determining that they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol (c.1.vii). This is despite the fact that small arms ammunition is extremely safe even when subjected to open flame, heat and shock. A customer still wouldn’t be able to purchase the ammunition because under this rule they are not allowed to carry it from the counter to the exit (c.3.iii.C). Even more damaging, the many “mom and pop” firearm outlets located in strip malls would be forced to shutdown as they have neighbor stores fewer than 50-feet away.

 

  • Shipping is Halted: Proposed restrictions on transportation exceed current DOT Regulations. Mandating wood-covered, non-spark-producing material in trailers for small arms ammunition shipments would bring the transportation of ammunition to a near halt. There are simply not enough trailers in existence today that would be able to substitute for traditional, metal covered surfaces. Small package carriers such as UPS and Fed-Ex would be prohibited from carrying ammunition and components which would shut down mail order houses such as Cabalas and Bass Pro shops and many business to business transactions. This section alone, with all it would entail (such as two drivers at all times), is capable of paralyzing our industry.

 

  • National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) Rules Exceeded: Proposed restrictions exceed NFPA regulations and would, for example, reduce commercial establishment displays of smokeless propellant from 50 to 20 lbs with no commensurate increase in safety. This will only add to dramatically increasing the cost to manufacturers and consumers.

 

It bears noting that scientific testing and safety records clearly illustrate that small arms ammunition is inherently an extremely safe product. I cannot recall a single instance where fire, shock, heat or lightening has resulted in injury from the accidental detonation of small-caliber ammunition. Billions of rounds of ammunition are sold each year in the U.S. and records demonstrate that current production and safety requirements are working.


I urge OSHA to grant an extension to this critical regulatory process.

 

Sincerely,




[YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS]


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