Enforcement and Inspection

New Rules and Tools—Highlights of OSHA’s Latest Regulatory Agenda

OSHA’s latest regulatory agenda, released in late May, outlined the status of the agency’s currently pending prerules, proposed rules, and final rules. Today, BLR® Safety Editor Emily Clark provides information on what you can expect to see from OSHA in the coming months and which developments could affect your facility.

Among the final rules, the most significant is OSHA’s initiative to implement electronic injury and illness recordkeeping and reporting. Proposed in November 2013, the rule would require large employers that are currently required to keep injury and illness records to electronically submit information from these records to OSHA on a quarterly basis. Employers with 20 or more employees in certain designated industries would be required to electronically submit information from the OSHA Form 300A, Annual Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. OSHA plans to put the information on its website as a publicly searchable establishment-specific database.

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Several groups have voiced opposition to the electronic recordkeeping proposal, contending that public availability of injury and illness data could encourage both employers and employees to underreport work-related injuries and illnesses. In response to these comments, OSHA published a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) and request for comments in August 2014 that proposed to make it a violation for an employer to discourage employee reporting of work-related injuries and illnesses. According to the regulatory agenda, OSHA plans to release the final rule by September 2015.

Also among the final rules is an update to OSHA’s Walking and Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems standard (29 CFR 1910 subparts D and I). The new rule would address workplace slip, trip, and fall hazards and establish requirements for personal fall protection systems in keeping with current technology and procedures. The agency plans to release a final rule in August 2015.

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Proposed rules include the following:

  • Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica. OSHA plans to reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica and implement a comprehensive silica health standard that includes exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, and worker training. The NPRM was issued in September 2013; OSHA expects to complete its analysis of the comments shortly.
  • Occupational Exposure to Beryllium. OSHA published a request for information (RFI) in 2002 to solicit information regarding the hazards of beryllium exposure with the intent of reducing the PEL. A notice of proposed rulemaking was anticipated in May 2015 but has not yet been released.
  • Respirator Fit Testing. The proposed rule would incorporate three new allowable fit-testing protocols for individuals assigned to use respirators. An NPRM is expected in July 2015.
  • Crane Operator Qualification in Construction. The proposal would identify criteria for employers to follow to ensure their crane operators are completely qualified to operate cranes safely. An NPRM is expected in December 2015.

Actions in the prerule stage include an analysis of the necessity of the bloodborne pathogen standard, a combustible dust regulation, an update to OSHA’s PELs, revisions to OSHA’s process safety management (PSM) standard, a communication tower safety standard, and a rule aimed at developing comprehensive emergency preparedness protocols and protecting emergency responders from on-the-job hazards.

Find out more about the Spring 2015 regulatory agenda here.