By Chris A. Paul
The U.S. Department of Labor announced its semi-annual
regulatory agenda on July 7, 2011, and numerous items involve
the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA,
recently stated that OSHA’s regulatory agenda includes extension
of enforcement beyond traditionally targeted manufacturing
and construction sectors. Barab said that OSHA is issuing more
willful citations, which carry maximum fines of $70,000 per
penalty, ostensibly in an effort to achieve a greater deterrent effect.
Barab also defended OSHA’s increased use of general duty clause
citations as well as the issuance of negative press releases by the
agency when it issues citations. He said that OSHA will continue
to use these statutory general duty clause “catch all” citations to
address alleged workplace hazards not specified in regulations,
including those affecting employees due to summer heat.
Some of the more interesting and significant are as follows:
Combustible dust (pre-rule)
OSHA is planning
to develop a combustible dust standard for general
Infectious diseases (pre-rule)
OSHA is planning to
issue an infectious disease standard wherein employers
must establish a comprehensive infection control
program and institute measures to protect employees
in healthcare and other “high risk environments” from
infectious disease exposures.
Preventing backing injuries and fatalities (pre-rule)
OSHA is seeking comment on technological and nontechnological
solutions to prevent backover incidents.
Emerging technologies in the field of operations include
devices, such as cameras, radar and ultrasonic devices to
help monitor the presence of workers on foot in blind
areas, and monitoring technology, such as tag-based
warning systems that use radio frequency (RFID) on
equipment to detect electronic tags worn by workers.
The use of spotters and internal traffic control plans
can also make backing operations safer. While backing
incidents can prove fatal, workers can suffer severe, nonfatal
injuries as well. A review of OSHA’s IMIS database
found that backing incidents can result in serious injury
to the back and pelvis, fractured bones, concussion,
amputation and other injuries. OSHA believes that it is
necessary to request information from those involved
in backing operations and the general public to better
understand how to prevent backing incidents.
Injury and illness prevention program (I2P2) (prerule)
Under I2P2, employers would be required to
inspect, identify and correct hazards in their workplaces.
Occupational exposure to crystalline silica (proposed)
A notice of a proposed rule to create stricter exposure
limits for silica will soon be published according to the
Walking working surfaces and personal fall protection
Slips, trips and falls are among
the leading causes of work-related injuries and fatalities.
OSHA has been working to update these rules to reflect
current technology available to reduce these risks.
Recording and reporting musculoskeletal disorders
Under the proposal, employers
would have to check an additional box for injuries or
illnesses related to MSD on their OSHA 300 logs.
Modernizing OSHA’s recording and reporting
OSHA proposes issuing a
notice of proposed rulemaking to change its reporting
system to both update and modernize the “efficient and
timely collection of data to improve the accuracy and
availability of relevant records and statistics.” In turn,
OSHA would be expanding its authority under the 29
CFR 1904 recordkeeping regulations to collect and
make injury and illness information available under the
Electrical power transmission and distribution;
electrical protective equipment (final)
will, among other things, update the construction
industry standard for the safety of workers during
the construction of electric power transmission and
distribution lines. OSHA will also revise various general
industry requirements affecting electric transmission
and distribution work, including updating the provisions
for providing electrical PPE to appropriate workers. This
rule is scheduled to be issued in September 2011.
Hazard communication (final)
OSHA has pushed
back the date for issuing the final rule on “harmonizing”
the hazard communication standard in 29 CFR 1910.1200
with the United Nation’s Globally Harmonized System
for Classification in Labeling of Chemicals (“GHS”).
The new rule, scheduled to also be issued in September
2011, is supposed to deal with problems associated with
multiple sets of requirements for labels and safety data
sheets for U.S. manufacturers, distributors and others
involved in international trade. The GHS is designed
to allow for one global system by using standardized
pictograms and hazard statements.
- OSHA soliciting public comment on whether or not
to initiate rulemakingProposed Rule
– OSHA proposes to add to or change existing
regulations through solicitation of public comments on the
– OSHA responds to public comments on a proposed
rule and may make revisions before publishing it in the Federal