THE NEWS STORY said that 928 regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration "met a timely death" last Friday. Don't let that fool you. There was nothing timely about it, except in the sense that any time is the right time to put an end to rules (roughly a tenth of the ones on OSHA's books) that should never have been born.
OSHA's Administrator, Eula Bingham, does deserve a cheer for finally killing this batch of regulations. But the bureaucratic process that led to their extinction took almost a year, once she had got it started. That suggests the government has as much difficulty getting rid of bad rules as it does creating good ones.
The story of these rules tells you something about why the government and the bureaucracy have fallen into such disrepute with big businesses and small businesses all over the country. Take this one: "Piping located inside or outside of buildings may be placed above or below ground." A businessman who violated that rule could be fined -- but only if he could figure out a way to violate it. But a conscientions builder, trying hard to do what Washington wanted, could waste a lot of time looking for more hidden meanings.
We look upon the disappearance of those 928 regulations as only a step toward compliance by the bureaucracy with President Carter's order to get rid of "nuisance" standards. Without even looking at the remaining 280 pages of OSHA rules, we are willing to bet there are others that would never be missed. And we do not doubt there are similar nonsensical rules in other government agencies. Now that OSHA has started the job of cleaning up its act -- and provided at least some evidence of how much cleaning up there is to be done -- perhaps other agencies will be encouraged to do the same.