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The Spring 2011 Regulatory Agenda: OSHA

Posted on July 12, 2011 by James Griffin

On July 7, 2011, Federal regulatory agencies published their semiannual regulatory agendas and regulatory plans as required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act [5 U.S.C. 602]. The agenda is where agencies summarize all current or projected rulemakings and review existing regulations and completed actions. While the detailed agendas are no longer published in the Federal Register, the complete Unified Agenda (for all departments and agencies) is now available online at www.reginfo.gov.
 
Below are significant rulemaking updates from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
 
To learn more about a rule or to read the full agenda, go to the Current Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, select the agency you are looking for from the drop-down menu, and look for the entry with the matching Rule Identifier Number (RIN). Dates indicated in the agenda are the agency’s earliest possible date of issuance.
 
Department of Labor
 
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
 
  • Bloodborne Pathogens (RIN: 1218-AC34) OSHA will undertake a review of the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) in accordance with the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act and Section 5 of Executive Order 12866. The review will consider the continued need for the rule; whether the rule overlaps, duplicates, or conflicts with other Federal, State, or local regulations; and the degree to which technology, economic conditions, or other factors may have changed since the rule was evaluated.
  • Combustible Dust (RIN: 1218-AC41) OSHA has commenced rulemaking to develop a combustible dust standard for general industry. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) completed a study of combustible dust hazards in late 2006, which identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that killed 119 workers and injured 718. Based on these findings, the CSB recommended the Agency pursue a rulemaking on this issue. OSHA has previously addressed aspects of this risk. For example, on July 31, 2005, OSHA published the Safety and Health Information Bulletin, “Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions.” Additionally, OSHA implemented a Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) on March 11, 2008. However, the Agency does not have a comprehensive standard that addresses combustible dust hazards. OSHA will use the information gathered from the NEP to assist in the development of this rule. OSHA published an ANPRM October 21, 2009. Additionally, stakeholder meetings were held in Washington, DC on December 14, 2009, in Atlanta, GA on February 17, 2010, and in Chicago, IL on April 21, 2010. A webchat for combustible dust was also held on June 28, 2010. The next step in this rulemaking will be to hold an expert forum meeting in May 2011.
  • Infectious Diseases (RIN: 1218-AC46) Employees in health-care and other high-risk environments face long-standing infectious disease hazards such as tuberculosis (TB), varicella disease (chickenpox, shingles), and measles (rubeola), as well as new and emerging infectious disease threats, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and pandemic influenza. Health-care workers and workers in related occupations or who are exposed in other high-risk environments are at increased risk of contracting TB, SARS, MRSA, and other infectious diseases that can be transmitted through a variety of exposure routes. OSHA is concerned about the ability of employees to continue to provide health-care and other critical services without unreasonably jeopardizing their health. OSHA is considering the need for a standard to ensure that employers establish a comprehensive infection control program and control measures to protect employees from infectious disease exposures to pathogens that can cause significant disease. Workplaces where such control measures might be necessary include: health care, emergency response, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, drug treatment programs, and other occupational settings where employees can be at increased risk of exposure to potentially infectious people. A standard could also apply to laboratories that handle materials that may be a source of pathogens, and to pathologists, coroners’ offices, medical examiners, and mortuaries. OSHA published an RFI on May 6, 2010, the comment period closed on August 4, 2010. OSHA will hold stakeholder meetings.
  • Injury and Illness Prevention Program (RIN: 1218-AC48) OSHA is developing a rule requiring employers to implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. It involves planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving processes and activities that protect employee safety and health. OSHA has substantial data on reductions in injuries and illnesses from employers who have implemented similar effective processes. The Agency currently has voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines (54 FR 3904-3916), published in 1989. An injury and illness prevention rule would build on these guidelines and lessons learned from successful approaches and best practices under OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program and similar industry and international initiatives, such as American National Standards Institute/American Industrial Hygiene Association Z10 and Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series 18001.
  • Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips, and Fall Prevention) (RIN: 1218-AB80) In 1990, OSHA proposed a rule (55 FR 13360) addressing slip, trip, and fall hazards and establishing requirements for personal fall protection systems. Slips, trips, and falls are among the leading causes of work-related injuries and fatalities. Since that time, new technologies and procedures have become available to protect employees from these hazards. The Agency has been working to update these rules to reflect current technology. OSHA published a notice to re-open the rulemaking for comment on May 2, 2003, because a number of issues were raised in the NPRM record. As a result of the comments received on that notice, OSHA has determined that the rule proposed in 1990 is out-of-date and does not reflect current industry practice or technology. The Agency published a second NPRM on May 24, 2010, which was modified to reflect current information as well as reassess the impact. Hearings were held on January 18 through 21, 2011.
  • Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements—Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Column (RIN: 1218-AC45) OSHA is proposing to restore a column to the OSHA 300 Log that employers must check if a case they are already required to record under OSHA’s existing Recordkeeping rule (29 CFR 1904) is a “musculoskeletal disorder” (MSD). This proposal does not change the existing requirements about when and under what circumstances employers must record work-related injuries and illnesses. The Agency believes that having aggregate data on MSDs may help employers and workers track these injuries at individual workplaces. MSD information will also improve the utility, accuracy, and completeness of the national occupational injury and illness statistics, and may assist the Agency in its day-to-day activities and overall safety and health policy making. This proposed rule was temporarily withdrawn from OMB on January 26, 2011, so that the Agency could gather more information from stakeholders in the small business community. OSHA, in conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, will participate in a special stakeholder meeting to listen to the concerns of small businesses regarding the Agency’s proposal. After this meeting, OSHA will review the information in the record and take appropriate action based on the information received.
  • Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements—Modernizing OSHA’s Reporting System (RIN: 1218-AC49) OSHA is proposing changes to its reporting system for occupational injuries and illnesses. An updated and modernized reporting system would enable a more efficient and timely collection of data and would improve the accuracy and availability of the relevant records and statistics. This proposal involves modification to 29 CFR 1904.41 to expand OSHA’s legal authority to collect and make available injury and illness information required under Part 1904.
  • Hazard Communication (RIN: 1218-AC20) OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import and prepare labels and material safety data sheets to convey the hazards and associated protective measures to users of the chemicals. All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces are required to have a hazard communication program, including labels on containers, material safety data sheets (MSDSs), and training for employees. Within the U.S., there are other Federal agencies that also have requirements for classification and labeling of chemicals at different stages of the life cycle. Internationally, there are a number of countries that have developed similar laws that require information about chemicals to be prepared and transmitted to affected parties. These laws vary with regard to the scope of substances covered, definitions of hazards, the specificity of requirements (e.g., specification of a format for MSDSs), and the use of symbols and pictograms. The inconsistencies between the various laws are substantial enough that different labels and safety data sheets must often be used for the same product when it is marketed in different nations. As a result of this situation, and in recognition of the extensive international trade in chemicals, there has been a long-standing effort to harmonize these requirements and develop a system that can be used around the world. In 2003, the United Nations adopted the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Countries are now adopting the GHS into their national regulatory systems. OSHA published the NPRM on September 30, 2009 and held public hearings in Washington, DC and Pittsburgh, PA in March 2010. The record closed on June 1, 2010. OSHA is scheduled to publish the final rule in August 2011.
  • Standards Improvement Project (SIP III) (RIN: 1218-AC19) OSHA is continuing its efforts to remove or revise duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent safety and health standards. This effort builds upon the success of the Standards Improvement Project (SIP) Phase I published on June 18, 1998 (63 FR 33450), and Phase II published on January 5, 2005 (70 FR 1111). The Agency believes that such changes can reduce compliance costs and reduce the paperwork burden associated with a number of its standards. The Agency will only consider such changes if they do not diminish employee protections. To initiate the project, OSHA published an ANPRM on December 21, 2006, to solicit input from the public on rules that may be addressed in Phase III of SIP. The Agency plans to include both safety and health topics in Phase III. OSHA published an NPRM on July 2, 2010. The comment period closed on September 30, 2010. The next action for this rulemaking is to publish the final rule.