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February 14, 2014
State regulatory highlights: Key workplace safety issues for 2014

We hear a great deal about the role of federal government in regulating safety and health, but state legislatures are also tackling a variety of issues. The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has been monitoring the situation. Check out the hottest issues facing the states this legislative season.

With the attention of federal lawmakers focused on issues like the budget and health care, it can take months or even years for other types of legislation to be enacted, notes AIHA’s Aaron K. Trippler. “That’s why it’s important to devote resources to monitor state legislation and engage in rulemaking efforts of interest to the OEHS profession at the state level,” he says.

In addition, Trippler notes that states often pave the way for similar rulemaking action at the federal level. Federal OSHA is currently considering regulations for several issues that some states, notably California, have already addressed in their occupational safety and health standards. Examples include an injury and illness prevention program (I2P2) rule, infectious diseases, and lower exposure limits for certain chemicals.

The AIHA says these issues are likely to appear on state legislative and regulatory agendas in coming months.

  • Safe patient handling. Currently, 12 states have enacted some form of legislation or regulation. The issue is also on OSHA’s mind; the agency recently launched new Web resources to help hospitals prevent worker injuries.
  • Mold abatement and licensing. States continue to examine mold abatement to determine if it should be regulated and if those involved in the work should be licensed. As some states work toward exposure limits, others are focused on standards to abate and remediate.
  • Hazardous substances. According to the AIHA, more states have begun discussing how to deal with hazardous materials, including chemicals. This may be due in part to high-visibility incidents like the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion in April 2013.
  • Professional recognition and title protection. The AIHA says that of more than 350 titles in the occupational safety and health profession, fewer than 30 are granted by accredited bodies. The AIHA has been involved in enacting title protection legislation in more than 20 states, but policymakers struggle to determine which professionals to recognize and how to determine their qualifications.

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