Understanding OSHA Rulemaking
Every year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposes and implements new regulations. The OSHA rulemaking efforts give companies specific guidelines to follow. They also set clear expectations that the administration can use to evaluate workplaces. Below is a breakdown of what we can expect of OSHA’s regulatory agenda for 2020 – and how these changes may effect the safety landscape and workplaces.
OSHA Hazard Communication
OSHA incorporated the United Nation’s (UN) Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (GHS) into its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) in 2012. It specified requirements for hazard classification and standardized GHS label components/information on safety data sheets; the aim was to improve employee protection and facilitate international trade. GHS is a living document and has been updated several times since OSHA’s initial rulemaking; OSHA's rulemaking was based on the third edition of GHS and the UN recently completed the seventh. Therefore, OSHA is in the process of aligning its HCS to the latest edition of the GHS, and to codify a number of enforcement policies that have been issued since the 2012 standard. In late 2018, OSHA proposed a new regulation on hazard communication, and it continues to be in the proposed rule stage. This will likely be a continued push into 2020. Hazard communication has repeatedly made OSHA’s top 10 violations list .
Safety Rules and
Standards – and the Current Political Climate
Early in the current administration, President Trump signed an executive order colloquially known as “two-for-one” that requires agencies to repeal two regulations for every one enacted. This has brought a number of OSHA rules to a halt as removing workplace safety regulations is no trivial matter.
Furthermore, at the end of 2018, the administration took steps to roll back a 2016 rule requiring electronic submission of workplace injuries every year. Prior to the 2016 rule, companies had to keep records but never had to submit them.
The long-awaited Beryllium rule may take effect this coming year. The metal is a commonly used material in products ranging from electronics to golf clubs. However, prolonged exposure is linked to several deadly diseases such as lung cancer.
The administration is currently reviewing comments from the December 2018 proposed update. It expects to propose updates to the rule for general industry based on these comments.
Loren Sweatt, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, said in a recent speech: “The proposed changes would maintain safety and health protections for workers, while facilitating compliance with the standards, and yielding some cost savings.”
OSHA recently issued an updated rule for testing the fit of respirators. This provides two new protocols that employers may use. This does not require employers in general industries, shipyard employment and construction to change their current testing methods.
This rule is in the final rule stage. It’s not expected to add any additional cost for employers currently conforming to the previous testing method.
According to a release by OSHA, “the new protocols are the modified ambient aerosol condensation nuclei counter (CNC) quantitative fit testing protocol for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and the modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol for filtering facepiece respirators.”
OSHA published a request for information (RFI) to learn more about lockout/tagout for controls and robotics. According to Sweatt, “the agency is interested in considering the impact of modern machines on the workplace and how best to continue to protect workers.”
As computer-based controls become more prevalent, OSHA wants to have rules in place to ensure safety around them. The agency is working to understand the current public record.
Silica Control Measures
Similarly, the agency also requested information related to crystalline silica. The aim is to revise Table 1 in the Standard for Construction.
This potential rule is in the pre-rule stage. Its abstract states: “OSHA is interested in information on the effectiveness of control measures not currently included for tasks and tools listed in Table 1. The Agency is also interested in tasks and tools involving exposure to respirable crystalline silica that are not currently listed in Table 1, along with information on the effectiveness of dust control methods in limiting worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica when performing those operations.”
OSHA issued another RFI for establishing a new online training model. Reported issues with the current model include inconsistent quality, poor monitoring and lack of oversight.
Speaking about outreach, Sweatt said “examining ways to improve the accessibility of information about available resources is a key project for OSHA.” The RFI is currently open for comments from anyone who wants to have input on the subject.
In January of this year, OSHA published a final rule that rolled back the requirement of online submission of injury records. The rule change removed the need to submit information from Form 300 and 301, the log of work-related injuries and illnesses and the injury and illness incident report respectively. However, employers still need to submit form 300A, the summary of work-related injuries and illnesses. This rule change did not affect the requirement to keep five years of records of forms 300, 301 and 300A. This rule and the record-keeping rule it reversed only apply to establishments with 250 or more employees.
Understanding OSHA’s regulatory agenda can help to keep a pulse on key topics that today’s equipment manufacturers and environmental health and safety teams need to have top of mind. Keep in mind that Clarion Safety is your go-to source for the news and safety products you need to help support your safety and compliance objectives in 2020.
This blog was originally posted on 1/3/2019 and updated with new information.