OSHA Pursues Beryllium Rule

Few major changes distinguish OSHA's most recent semiannual regulatory agenda, released Dec. 22, from its predecessor issued in May. One possible exception is the agency's decision to develop a proposed rule addressing occupational exposure to beryllium.

Don't expect to see the new rule in the near future, however. OSHA predicted that it would not begin the SBREFA (Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act) process, the first step in the rulemaking procedure, until September 2004.

Elsewhere, the regulatory agenda for the most part revealed minor signs of progress, added delays, no progress at all, or confirmed news already released.

One rule that continues to show no signs of movement is employer payment for personal protective equipment, a standard that was nearly completed in the final days of the Clinton administration. Listed as a 'long-term action,' the entry on the most recent regulatory agenda (RA) is identical to what was published in the previous RA: "the agency continues to consider how to address this issue."

Other highlights of this year's agenda include:

  • Hearing Conservation for Construction Workers Formerly listed as a long-term action, this rule has been promoted to the proposed rule stage and a stakeholder meeting is planned for March 2004;
  • Hexavalent Chromium Has a court-imposed deadline of Oct. 4, 2004 for publication of a proposed standard, and a final rule by Jan. 16, 2006;
  • Crystalline Silica SBREFA report is to be completed by January 2004;
  • Ionizing Radiation Request for information has been delayed three months, until January 2004;
  • Walking Working Surfaces In May, OSHA reopened the record of this 13-year-old rulemaking effort and plans to reopen it yet again in September 2004;
  • Updating OSHA Standards Based on National Consensus Standards A notice of proposed rulemaking is to be issued in September 2004;
  • Assigned Protection Factors This amendment to the respiratory protection standard is now listed as a final rule and there will be a public meeting on the proposal in January.
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