OSHAs Fall Agenda Only Lists Significant Items

Dec. 11, 2007
In accordance with a change mandated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), OSHA’s recently released semi-regulatory agenda only published eight hazard topics in the Federal Register, compared to the 26 that appeared in April.

OSHA spokesperson Sharon Worthy explained OMB decided that while other hazard topics will remain on the agenda, “only the most significant items” would be published online in the Federal Register starting in the fall of 2007.

The eight workplace standards published Dec. 10 include those that have garnered the most public interest, such as occupational exposure to crystalline silica, confined spaces and cranes and derricks.

Hazards in the April agenda that were not published in the Federal Register this fall include:

  • Hearing conservation for construction workers
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Power presses
  • Working conditions in shipyards
  • Vertical tandem lifts used in longshoring
  • Hazard Communication

Diacetyl on Agenda

Occupational exposure to diacetyl, as well as food flavorings that contain the agent, appeared on the agenda for the first time this fall. In 2006, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) petitioned the Labor Department for an emergency temporary standard for all employees exposed to diacetyl, a major component in artificial butter flavoring. With growing evidence that diacetyl is the culprit behind bronchiolitis obliterans, a fatal lung disease, the agency began the proposed rulemaking process and will initiate a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act (SBREFA) stakeholder meeting in January 2008.

However, crystalline silica is still on the agenda in the pre-rule stage, and according to the agency, a complete peer review of its health effects and risk assessment of the proposed rule will be completed by January 2008. Crystalline silica – a compound that workers in construction, maritime and general industry are routinely exposed to – has been cited as the cause of silicosis. OSHA’s April agenda stated that the review would be completed by September 2007.

Occupational exposure to beryllium also has been on OSHA’s plate for some time. Since 2001, OSHA has been in the process of gathering data through an official request for information to determine an appropriate course of action for addressing work-related hazards of beryllium. The agency indicated that an SBREFA report will be completed by January 2008.

The new agenda also stated OSHA would submit a complete peer review of economic analysis on the Hazard Communication standard by November 2007, but evidently this action has been delayed. Implementing a Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is a priority for both large global companies and OSHA. “U.S. manufacturers, employers and employees will be at a disadvantage in the event that our system of hazard communication is not compliant with the GHS,” the agency stated.

Other items on the regulatory agenda, which are slated for final action, include:

  • Updating OSHA standards based on national consensus standards – public hearing on final rule in December.
  • Vertical tandem lifts for longshoring and marine terminals – December.
  • Electric power transmission and distribution; electrical protective equipment – April 2008, previously slated for June 2008.

For a look at the entire agenda, go to www.reginfo.gov or www.regulations.gov.

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