The average number of federal regulations issued each year, based on the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Federal Rules Database from 2000 to 2014, is 3,300. The number of major regulations, those with an estimated impact of $100 million or more, runs from 66 to 99 over those same years. 

The average number of federal regulations issued each year, based on the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Federal Rules Database from 2000 to 2014, is 3,300. The number of major regulations, those with an estimated impact of $100 million or more, runs from 66 to 99 over those same years. 

What Is the Impact?

New regulations accumulate from one year to the next. In addition, that is just the federal regulations, which does not take into account the cascade of state, local, and regulations involving each country or trading block.

Given all this, the quest for “key manufacturing regulations” is somewhat impractical and idealistic. In addition, many of the key regulations are those you are not aware of that can really sting when regulators show up on your doorstep.

What Is the Cost?


The National Association of Manufacturers found that the total cost of federal regulations in 2012 topped two trillion dollars. For an average U.S. manufacturer the annual cost is a whopping $233,182 or 21% of payroll.

Where Do the Dollars Go?

In a report published by NAM titled The Cost of Federal Regulation to the U.S. Economy, Manufacturing, and Small Business, they found that the direct regulatory costs on manufacturers totaled $138.6 billion split as follows:

  • Staff Devoted to Compliance, $94.8 million.
  • Capital Equipment, $18.6 million.
  • Outside Advisors, $12.1 million.
  • Operations and Maintenance, $10.7 million.
  • Federal Compliance Penalties, $2.4 million.

For a manufacturer with less than 50 employees, the total regulatory cost each year is $34,671 per employee. For one with 50 to 99 employees, it comes in at $18,243 per employee. The average of all manufacturers is $19,564. Regulatory compliance is not cheap.

Manufacturing Regulations and Restrictions

NAM has also published an insightful report titled Holding US Back: Regulation of the U.S. Manufacturing Sector. In it they provide a hypothetical account of one manufacturing firm and their regulatory journey. Then they detail each and every regulation and restriction placed on manufacturing by process step.

  • Environmental, Health, and Safety, 102,734.
  • Tax, 51,760.
  • Production, 44,628.
  • Quality Control, 23,951.
  • Distributions and Shipping, 21,057.
  • Human Resources, 17,042.
  • Research, Development, and New Products, 12,833.
  • Governance, 8,884.
  • Labeling and Packaging, 7,477.
  • Sourcing, 4,168 restrictions.
  • Post-Sale Follow-Up, 1,644.
  • Marketing and Sales, 1,518.

That’s a grand total of 297,696 at the federal level. And, it keeps growing.

What Can You Do?

That same report, Holding US Back: Regulation of the U.S. Manufacturing Sector, found that most manufacturers follow a five-step process to find and comply with new regulations:

  1. Identify new regulations.
  2. Determine if and/or how they impact the company’s operations.
  3. Develop or revise operating procedures.
  4. Implement the procedures, improvements and training.
  5. Audit compliance over the long term. 

What About PPE Regulations?

Our specialty is personal protective equipment (PPE). So you can bet that we pay very close attention to regulations for our products. Here’s what you need to know about OSHA regulations, including the regulation number.

PPE General Requirements — 1910.132

PPE covers equipment meant to protect eyes, face, head, and extremities including hands, feet, arms, legs, etc. Employers need to determine what’s needed given the nature of the hazards in their workplace and they need to provide the PPE and training at their expense. As a starting point for further information we like the OSHA Fact Sheet Personal Protective Equipment.

Eye and Face Protection — 1910.133

Thousands of people are blinded each year and eye injuries cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical costs, and worker compensation costs. The hazards that you’ll need to evaluate here include impact from flying objects, heat, chemicals, harmful dusts, and optical radiation. OSHA provides an online tool for selecting PPE.

Hand Protection — 1910.138

We’ve spent a considerable amount of our time making gloves that fit every imaginable workplace and address every workplace hazard. The regulation for hand protection covers hazards that include harmful substances, severe cuts/lacerations, abrasions, punctures, chemical and thermal burns, as well as temperature extremes. Another resource we recommend is OSHA’s PPE Assessment Tool. 

Foot Protection — 1910.136

Foot protection needs to address falling and rolling objects as well as objects that could pierce the sole. It should also address static-discharge or electric-shock hazard when those exist in the workplace. You’ll find the full regulation at foot protection. 

Previously featured on MCR Safety's blog.

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MCR Safety has over forty years of experience as a leader in the field of personal protective equipment (PPE). Our assortment of offerings includes gloves, glasses, and garments which are made from the highest quality materials available to ensure maximum safety, comfort, and style.

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