OSHA Regulatory Agenda Released

[tweetmeme]News and Notes from Aaron Trippler, Director of Government Affairs for AIHA

The Department of Labor has released its semi-annual regulatory agenda, including issues at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Here’s a look at a portion of the agenda, with a few comments on each.

 Prerule Stage

Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica – OSHA plans to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in July 2010. The rulemaking would update existing permissible exposure limits and establish additional provisions to protect workers from exposure. This is one of those issues Dr. Michaels has stated he hopes to move forward. Remains to be seen if the agency can have a NPRM ready by July.

Occupational Exposure to Beryllium – OSHA hopes to initiate a peer review in March 2010. Again, OSHA hopes to update the Permissible Exposure Limit. This issue has been around for nearly 10 years when OSHA was petitioned to issue an emergency temporary standard. Listing it in the pre-rule stage generally means this issue is a long way from completion. This may be a priority of many, but don’t look for anything on this issue for at least the next two years.

Occupational Exposure to Diacetyl – In discussion since 2006, the agency hopes to develop a PEL for diacetyl and develop a final rule. But this issue has been delayed repeatedly. OSHA was prepared to announce an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the past year but this ANPR was pulled. Now, OSHA hopes to initiate a peer review by late 2010. Hard to say why OSHA is delaying this issue so long. California has already proposed their own standard and many expected OSHA to move quickly on the issue. Delaying the peer review to late 2010 means this may also be several years from completion.

Combustible Dust – This is one issue where the pre-rule stage may be correct. The agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in October and is planning stakeholder meetings yet this month. In the past, some have said OSHA does not need a combustible dust standard as it has many others standards it can use for enforcement. But that hasn’t stopped the effort. Congress has even become involved with legislation introduced to require OSHA to enact a standard. Expect this issue to move forward as the only one in the pre-rule stage that has a chance of completion during this administration.

Miscellaneous Pre-Rule Issues – Other issues listed in the pre-rule stage are:

  • Emergency Response and Preparedness
  • Methylene Chloride
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Airborne Infectious Diseases

Proposed Rule Stage

Confined Spaces in Construction – This rule would extend confined spaces rules for general industry to confined spaces in construction. Frankly, this is one of those issues many expected OSHA to move forward as soon as the new administration took over. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking comment period ended way back in 2008. OSHA is still analyzing comments.

Hazard Communication – The long-awaited change to the Haz Com Standard by adopting the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The advanced notice for this issue began back in 2006 and has progressed to the point where comments are due on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking the end of 2009. OSHA hopes to have this completed in 18 months. That may be wishful thinking. While many believe we must adopt the GHS as soon as possible, it will be interesting to see how many concerns are raised in the NPRM comments.

Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements – OSHA hopes to announce a NPRM in early 2010. We may just see this happen. The purpose of this rulemaking is to again require the recording of work-related musculoskeletal disorders on the 300 log. Two things to be aware of; 1) the whole issue of MSDs will be very controversial and 2) OSHA may decided to expand its look into recordkeeping requirements, perhaps not with this rulemaking but with additional rulemaking.

Miscellaneous Proposed Rule Issues – Other issues listed in the proposed rule stage are:

  • Standards Improvement
  • Cooperative Agreements

 Final Rule Stage

Cranes and Derricks in Construction – OSHA hopes to issue a final rule in July 2010. Many expected the new administration would make this the first rulemaking to be completed. Unfortunately it has dragged on and there is hope the July 2010 date is real. While OSHA has dragged its feet on this rulemaking several states and local governments have addressed the issue on their own.

Long-Term Action

Hearing Conservation Program for Construction Workers – OSHA continues to collect and analyze information on this issue. The ANPRM was completed way back in 2002. Gives you some idea as to how long it now takes to complete rulemaking.

If you wish to review the entire semi-annual regulatory agenda, simply go to

http://www.regulations.gov/public/component/main?__dmfClientId=1260375473562&__dmfTzoff=300

and search under Department of Labor.

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