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December 11, 2013
OSHA announces 2014 regulatory priorities. Are you ready?

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which includes OSHA, has issued its Fall 2013 Regulatory Agenda. The document includes 28 OSHA-related items. Keep reading to learn about OSHA's rulemaking plans and what they mean for you and your employees.

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The labor department says the regulations it is pursuing in 2014 are part of a plan/prevent/protect approach, “designed to ensure employers and other regulated entities are in full compliance with the law every day, not just when the Department of Labor engages an employer.”

The DOL is emphasizing greater openness and transparency by giving employers, workers, and others greater access to information concerning workplace conditions and expectations. The goal, says the department, is for compliance to become a more cooperative exercise.

The DOL is currently engaged in a review of existing rules to analyze whether they significantly reduce burdens on small businesses. This will continue in the new year.

OSHA anticipates several new final rules in 2014

OSHA plans to issue several final rules in 2014, as well as move proposed rules closer to implementation. Initiatives addressed in the regulatory agenda include:

  • Confined spaces in construction. A final rule is expected early in 2014.
  • Occupational injury and illness recording and reporting requirements. OSHA plans to revise the reporting requirements regarding the obligations of employers to report to OSHA the occurrence of fatalities and injuries that require hospitalization. A final rule is scheduled for April 2014.
  • Slips and Falls—Personal Fall Protective Systems. OSHA has a final rule awaiting action by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that will incorporate personal fall protection systems into the existing general industry rule for Walking and Working Surfaces (29 CFR 1910.23) that reflects new technologies. The final rule is expected in June 2014.
  • Electric power transmission and distribution. A final rule awaiting action by the OMB would update requirements for foot protection and aerial lift fall protection for electrical installations.

OSHA proposed rules moving forward in 2014

  • Modernizing recordkeeping. Under a proposal, certain employers would be required to submit injury and illness recordkeeping data electronically.
  • Injury and illness prevention plan (I2P2). OSHA is shaping a proposed rule that would require employers to develop a formal program to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses through a systematic process that proactively addresses workplace safety and health hazards. A notice of proposed rulemaking is expected in September 2014.
  • Occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. A proposal published in the Federal Register on September 12, 2013, would establish a new limit of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Hearings on the proposal are scheduled to begin on March 18, 2014.
  • Whistleblower protection. New rules have been proposed to establish consistent and transparent procedures for filing whistleblower complaints.
  • Cranes and derricks in construction. The agency plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking that would address operator certification and other issues.

A number of regulations are in the prerule stage or are at various levels of review:

  • Bloodborne pathogens. The agency is considering the continued need for the rule in light of overlap and possible conflicts with other regulations.
  • Infectious diseases. A possible standard would require that employers establish a comprehensive infection control program.
  • Preventing back-over injuries and fatalities. OSHA has requested information and has held stakeholder meetings to discuss emerging technologies that address the risks of backing operations.
  • Reinforced concrete in construction. OSHA says current rules may not adequately address the hazards; the agency is seeking information on the topic.
  • Combustible dust. Rulemaking has begun, but no proposal has been issued.

In addition, OSHA continues to review its chemical standards. The majority of existing permissible exposure limits (PELs) were adopted in 1971, and only a few have been updated since that time.

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