OSHA to Issue Final Rule on Standards Improvement Process

OSHA continues to make progress eliminating inconsistent, duplicative or outdated provisions in occupational safety and health standards for general industry, construction and maritime.

The agency will publish a final rule in the Jan. 5 Federal Register on the second phase of its standards improvement project.

"These changes will reduce the regulatory burdens on employers while maintaining the safety and health protections afforded to employees," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw, who left the agency on Dec. 31. "These burdens produce no safety and health value and, once eliminated, will reduce annual costs by more than $6.8 million. That's a winning combination for us all."

The final rule revises or eliminates medical provisions in older standards that were once considered accepted practice but have since been deemed obsolete or unnecessary in current medical practice. For example, annual rather than semi-annual medical examinations will now be required for long-term employees exposed to inorganic arsenic, coke oven emissions and vinyl chloride.

In addition, the final rule eliminates reporting requirements that have failed to benefit employee health. For example, employers will no longer have to notify OSHA of all workplace releases for certain specified carcinogens. In addition, while employers are still required to establish regulated work areas for vinyl chloride, inorganic arsenic, acrylonitrile and for the 13 known occupational carcinogens, they will no longer be required to notify OSHA each time they do so.

The final rule updates chemical exposure provisions by making them consistent in terms of the frequency of monitoring and the manner of employee notification of monitoring results.

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