Updating Cranes and Derricks Rule: Henshaw Vows to "Get it Done"

OSHA Administrator John Henshaw outlined what appeared to be an aggressive regulatory strategy in the construction arena at this week's meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) in Washington, DC.

He said the agency has "three significant" rulemaking priorities in construction, he vowed to complete the standards as soon as possible, and he seemed to reject OSHA's regulatory tradition of treating construction workers differently from those in general industry.

Updating Subpart N, Cranes and Derricks: Henshaw said the agency would determine membership of the negotiated rulemaking committee "very soon." The first meeting of the committee could be as early as late June. OSHA official Noah Connell said the agency was committed to "an aggressive" timeline: it wants the committee to complete its work within 12 months; the steel erection negotiated rulemaking committee needed 18 months to do its job.

Henshaw said he also wanted OSHA to finish its part of the negotiated rulemaking process more quickly than in the past.

"In my mind, a significant part of this process is we take the final product and get it done and not wait several months and years before we take action," he said.

Henshaw explained that after the agency was handed the finished product by the negotiated rulemaking committee, OSHA waited too long issue the final steel erection rule. "Steel erection is an example of what can happen if we don't take the appropriate action following the negotiated rulemaking process."

Silica: Henshaw said he prefers to tackle the silica issues in general industry and construction together. While exposures and controls may differ between general industry and construction, "silica is silica, workers are workers and health effects are health effects," he explained. "We will be looking at how to do that."

Henshaw observed that workers rely on OSHA to come up with standards that are both protective and "implementable." He asked ACCSH for its expert advice in dealing with silica.

Noise in Construction: After observing there is a noise standard in general industry, Henshaw once again asserted that, as with silica, it made no sense to treat construction workers differently. "Noise is noise and workers are workers," he said. "The controls may be different, but an ear drum is an ear drum."

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