Hundreds of Utahns who work with toxic wastes will be protected by new safety and health regulations announced by the U.S. Department of Labor, according to Doug McVey, administrator of the State Industrial Commission's Occupational Safety and Health Division.

He said the Utah workers are among 1.75 million workers across the country affected by the new regulations. Utah is one of several states administering its own OSHA program.John A. Pendergrass, assistant secretary of labor who directs OSHA, said, "This standard represents the first comprehensive approach to protecting public and private sector employees involved in the dangerous business of handling hazardous waste materials."

He said the new standard is expected to reduce the likelihood of accidental releases of hazardous materials and severity of emergencies resulting from spills of hazardous materials.

Workers protected by the new rules include firefighters, police officers and ambulance and hazardous materials personnel who respond to spills; those who must clean up the spills at uncontrolled hazard waste dump sites; and those working at waste storage, treatment and disposal facilities licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The estimated cost of applying the standard nationally is $153 million, most of which will go for training. The new rules will replace an interim final rule that became effective Dec. 19, 1986. The interim rule will remain in place until the new rule is effective in 12 months.

Utah and 24 other states and territories that have their own safety and health programs have six months to develop their own standards, which must be at least as effective as the federal regulation.