OSHA Releases Fall Regulatory Agenda

OSHA’s fall semi-annual regulatory agenda was published in the Federal Register Dec. 20, featuring updates on regulatory actions including the Injury and Illness Prevention Program, modernizing recording and reporting requirements, infectious diseases, hazard communication, combustible dust and more.

OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels has stressed that the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) is one of his top priorities. I2P2 would require employers to find and fix hazards in the workplace as well as planning, implementing, evaluating and improving processes and activities that protect worker safety and health. I2P2 is included on the agenda in the pre-rule stage, with plans to initiate the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) process in June 2011.

“OSHA believes that an injury and illness prevention program is a universal intervention that can be used in a wide spectrum of workplaces to dramatically reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries,” the agenda stated. “Such programs have been shown to be effective in many workplaces in the United States and internationally.”

The proposed rule to modernize OSHA’s reporting system is scheduled for a September 2011 Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). According to the agenda, “The collection of establishment specific injury and illness data in electronic format on a timely basis is needed to help OSHA, employers, employees, researchers, and the public more effectively prevent workplace injuries and illnesses, as well as support President Obama's Open Government Initiative to increase the ability of the public to easily find, download, and use the resulting dataset generated and held by the Federal Government.”

The agenda also includes an Infectious Diseases regulation in the pre-rule stage. This rule would require employers to protect workers from exposure to infectious diseases and develop infection control programs. Applicable occupational settings may include health care, emergency response, correctional facilities and more. OSHA intends to analyze the comments from the Request for Information regarding this rule in December.

Other key items:

  • OSHA has initiated a rulemaking on backing operations to prevent injuries and fatalities that occur when equipment is backing up. According to the agenda, backing accidents cause 500 deaths and 15,000 injuries a year. This action is in the pre-rule stage, with a request for information expected in May 2011.
  • The proposal to include an MSD Column on the OSHA 300 log is expected to become a final rule in February 2011.
  • A Jan. 18, 2011, public hearing is scheduled for the proposed Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips, and Fall Prevention) rule.
  • OSHA intends to initiate the SBREFA process for the proposed combustible dust rule in April 2011.
  • A final rule on confined spaced in construction is expected in November 2011.
  • OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), which “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,” is expected to become a final rule in August 2011.

For more information about the regulatory agenda, visit http://www.dol.gov/regulations.

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