AIHce: What's Ahead for OSHA?

May 11, 2004
Steven F. Witt, director of OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance, predicted a late arrival for the agencies semi-annual regulatory agenda, saying it will be released in late June or early July, rather than the usual date in May. While the agenda probably won't contain any surprises, it does contain the agency's priorities for the next few months.

Witt, addressing a session at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exhibition (AIHce) in Atlanta, said the SBREFA process (Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act process, the first step in the rulemaking procedure) was completed for the hexavalent chromium standard on April 20. The standard has a court-imposed deadline of Oct. 4 for publication of a proposed standard, and a final rule by Jan. 16, 2006. Questions, such as "should the current draft exclude certain types of work," have yet to be settled, said Witt.

A guidance for hearing conservation for construction workers is currently in the review process, said Witt. Stakeholders had the opportunity to voice their opinions at meetings in Chicago on March 24 and 25, and another is planned for July in the Washington, D.C. area. "The meetings were helpful. They reinforced a number of critical issues that have not been resolved yet," said Witt. Those issues include:

  • Exposure monitoring: What is the most effective approach to evaluate noise exposures in construction?
  • Audiometric testing: What is the most practical approach to providing testing in construction, where much of the workforce is transient?
  • Portability of records: How to create long-term audiometric records for short-term employees? How can we decrease the difficulty of maintaining historic records, transferring audiometric test results between employers and ensuring privacy?

The SBREFA process for a standard for crystalline silica was initiated in June 2003. A draft standard was reviewed by small business representatives as part of the process. A report was completed on Dec. 19, 2003. The SBREFA panel recommendations are under evaluation, and options are being developed to proceed with a proposal, said Witt.

Issues OSHA is wrestling with for crystalline silica include:

  • Should the standard cover general industry, construction and maritime?
  • What is the feasibility of reducing the current PEL for general industry/maritime and for construction?
  • Can dust controls be specified for construction as an alternative to requiring exposure assessment and compliance with a PEL (a type of control-banding approach)?
  • How accurate are current sampling and analytical methods in detection of low concentrations of respirable quartz?
  • Whether and how to implement ancillary requirements (regulated areas, exposure assessment and hygiene facilities), particularly for construction?
About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!