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May 30, 2019
OSHA spring regulatory agenda includes beryllium updates, other items

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plans to issue changes by the end of the year to its beryllium standards for general industry, construction, and shipyards. The plans announced in the agency’s Spring 2019 regulatory agenda would complete changes to an “eleventh-hour” Obama administration rulemaking.

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OSHA issued final rules January 9, 2017 amending all three standards. President Trump ordered a freeze on the effective dates of regulations that had not yet taken effect when he was inaugurated. The agency issued proposed rules in 2017 and 2018 revoking portions of the final rulemaking.

OSHA now expects to issue the two following rules in December:

  • One clarifying provisions of the general industry standard in response to litigation and stakeholder comments; and
  • Another revoking provisions of the construction and shipyard standards because the agency concluded the ventilation and mechanical paint removers standards adequately cover hazards during abrasive blasting and welding operations.

Prerule actions

OSHA listed several prerule actions in its agenda including two that were initiated more than 10 years ago. The agency June 2007 issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to amend the mechanical power presses standard to cover hydraulic or pneumatic power presses. The agency plans to publish a Request for Information (RFI) in June.

The tree care industry petitioned OSHA for a standard and the agency issued an ANPRM for a tree care standard in September 2008. It plans to begin a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) review in June.
Other prerule actions listed include:

  • Evaluating SBREFA panel findings about amending the communications tower safety standard;
  • Beginning a SBREFA review of amending standards for emergency response to reflect current practices and consensus standards;
  • Initiating a SBREFA review of a possible workplace violence prevention standard for healthcare and social assistance services – the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission recently affirmed the agency’s use of the general duty clause to cite healthcare and social services employers in workplace violence cases; and
  • Publishing an ANPRM in June to lower the blood lead levels accepted for returning employees to work after medical removal.

Proposed rule plans

OSHA’s agenda listed a handful of regulatory actions at the proposed rule stage. Those include:

  • A December NPRM incorporating updates to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals into the hazard communication standard;
  • A June NPRM advancing agency approval of Puerto Rico’s territorial safety and health program;
  • A December NPRM to eliminate ambiguities between construction standards for confined space and welding and cutting;
  • A planned December NPRM for amendments and corrections to the cranes and derricks standard as well as;
  • Completing action on railroad roadway exemptions to the cranes and derricks standard agreed to in a court settlement with the Association of American Railroads.

Final rule actions

OSHA plans to issue final rules on the three beryllium standards. It also recently completed Phase IV of its Standards Improvement Project, which did not include four proposed changes. Other planned final rule actions include:

  • Revising agency practices and procedures for handling employee medical records; and
  • Making technical corrections to 35 agency standards.

The agency’s agenda did not list a recently issued RFI for amendments to the control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) standard to accept controls other than energy-isolating devices and include provisions for robotics safety.

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