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November 25, 2019
OSHA plans forklift, walking-working surfaces proposals

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plans to issue a pair of proposals in the new year to update its forklift and walking-working surfaces rules, according to the Department of Labor’s new regulatory agenda. The department issued its first agenda since Eugene Scalia became Secretary of Labor.

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OSHA plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking in January to update the powered industrial trucks standard to incorporate the most recent version of the industry consensus standard, ANSI/ITSDF B56.1a-2018, Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks. The standard currently refers to the 1969 industry standard, ANSI B56.1-1969 Safety Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks.
The agency currently is collecting information to evaluate the need to update requirements for the maintenance and use of powered industrial trucks and the training of operators.

The agency also plans to issue a proposal in April to clarify 2016 amendments to the walking-working surfaces standard. OSHA noted receiving feedback that several provisions of the 2016 final rule are unclear.

OSHA also withdrew one agenda item—granting final approval for a state plan in Puerto Rico. The agency said it is unclear when Puerto Rico’s state plan would meet the requirements for final approval.

Little else has changed from the department’s spring agenda. OSHA made some progress this year, completing Phase IV of the Standards Improvement Project and issuing a final rule updating quantitative fit-testing requirements for respirators.

A rulemaking for the construction industry cranes and derricks standard moved to the final rule stage. In September 2014, the agency settled a lawsuit filed by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) challenging certain exemptions in the standard that affect railroad roadway work. OSHA plans to issue a final rule in May to include additional exemptions to the standard.

The agency continues to tweak the standards for beryllium exposures amended by a last-minute Obama administration final rule issued January 9, 2017. OSHA plans to issue a final rule clarifying the ancillary provisions of the general industry standard. The agency also has a public meeting scheduled in December on its proposed changes to the construction and shipyard standards.

Other upcoming proposals

In addition to issuing a proposal for the powered industrial trucks and walking-working surfaces standards, OSHA has plans for several other proposed rules. Plans include:

  • A proposal to update the hazard communication standard to more closely align the U.S. standard with the updated Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS);
  • A proposal eliminating any ambiguity about the definition of “confined space” in the construction industry welding and cutting standard;
  • Proposed amendments to the communication tower standard to ensure it is adequately protective in a small, but highly hazardous industry; and
  • Proposed amendments and corrections to the construction industry cranes and derricks standard.

Tree care, workplace violence

A pair of Obama-era items remain on OSHA’s regulatory agenda. The tree care industry petitioned the agency to create a tree care standard to give the industry regulatory certainty. It currently must comply with a patchwork of standards.

A broad coalition of labor unions petitioned OSHA to add a standard for preventing workplace violence in health care and social services. The agency is initiating Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) reviews in both, which OSHA lists as in the prerule stage.

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