RI Department of Labor and Training

Department recommends revamp of boiler inspection process

May 5, 2011

Representative Patricia A. Serpa (D-District 27, Coventry, West Warwick and Warwick) and the RI Department of Labor and Training have made preliminary recommendations on revamping the state’s boiler inspection practices. These recommendations originate from a departmental work group, created by new DLT Director Charles J. Fogarty as a response to business concerns about fairness and consistency of current boiler inspection procedures.

Key recommendations include:

  • Narrowing the definition of businesses subject to biennial inspections of boilers and pressure vessels, thereby reducing the number of businesses subject to inspection.
  • Changing the inspection fee structure from a yearly assessment to a biennial assessment, so that costs to businesses subject to boiler inspections are reduced by 50 percent.

Director Fogarty credits the spirit behind the workgroup to the Chafee administration, stating, “Governor Chafee has given all departments the mandate to be more responsive to the needs of their particular customers. At the Department of Labor and Training, Rhode Island businesses are one of our most important customers, and we owe it to them to have rules and regulations that are fair, consistent and easily understood.”

Currently, Rhode Island law § 28-25-1 et. Seq., offers a broad definition of businesses subject to state inspection, including “places of public assembly such as schools, child care centers, public and private hospitals, nursing and boarding homes, churches, public buildings, or any similar place of public assembly.” Under this current definition, any size or type of business open to the public could conceivably fall under state inspection requirements. The work group recommends creating a more specific definition of “places of public assembly” and revising state law to reflect this clarification. Representative Serpa, who previously introduced legislation relating to boiler inspections, plans to introduce amended legislation in the near future that will allow the department to narrow that definition accordingly.

Serpa explains, “The legislation I introduced earlier this year was a direct response to a recommendation from the annual Small Business Economic Summit. Through the summit, businesses had identified the current boiler inspection process as being expensive and cumbersome. The Chafee administration shares my belief that we need to make it easier for businesses to grow and succeed in Rhode Island. The amended bill that is in progress is the result of the administration’s willingness to listen and respond to the needs of small business.”

At this time, the state charges $120 for a biennial inspection—reflecting two annual $60 fee assessments. The workgroup has suggested that, in fairness to impacted employers, only one fee should be assessed per inspection, reducing the cost to $60 per inspection. The Department of Labor and Training is currently revamping existing regulation to reflect the new fee structure, effective July 1st of this year. According to Director Fogarty, the department plans to create additional revisions to the regulations once Representative Serpa’s legislation is passed.

Director Fogarty adds, “These suggested changes to our current policies in no way affect the department’s attitude toward the importance of boiler safety. All 50 states safeguard the use of boilers and pressure vessels. In fact, every year, our department investigators identify approximately 80 pressure vessels with safety problems that, had they not been corrected, could have resulted in serious injuries to the public.”


ABOUT DLT: The RI Department of Labor and Training offers employment services, educational services and economic opportunity to both individuals and employers. DLT protects Rhode Island’s workforce by enforcing labor laws, prevailing wage rates and workplace health and safety standards. The department also provides temporary income support to unemployed and temporarily disabled workers. For more information on the programs and services available to all Rhode Islanders, please call the RI Department of Labor and Training at (401) 462-8000 or visit the web site at www.dlt.ri.gov