OSHA’s Fall Regulatory Agenda: Worker Protections Not a Priority

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By Katie Tracy, Center for Progressive Reform

The Trump administration has few plans to protect workers from emerging workplace health and safety hazards, according to the regulatory agenda released by the White House on October 16. This is nothing new for this administration, which has consistently neglected to take up worker protections, instead focusing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) resources on delaying and rolling back existing safeguards.

Among the rules in OSHA’s crosshairs, the agency plans to revoke a requirement for employers with 250 or more employees to electronically submit detailed logs of injuries and illnesses that occur at their establishments. The electronic reporting requirement for large firms is one piece of a 2016 rule finalized just before President Obama’s term ended. The 2016 rule only sought to require establishments to submit injury and illness records that employers are already required to keep on site. But Trump’s OSHA is basing its rollback on a bogus claim about employee privacy that, as we’ve explained in a prior post and in comments on the final rule, is completely unfounded.

OSHA’s fall agenda shows it will move ahead with plans to revoke ancillary requirements for the construction and maritime industries from the agency’s standard designed to limit worker exposure to toxic beryllium. OSHA is also planning to issue a proposed rule by December to revise provisions of the beryllium standard applicable to general industry, per a settlement agreement OSHA and industry reached this summer.

The good news is minimal. OSHA is planning to complete a small business review panel it initiated over the summer to consider regulatory approaches the agency ought to take to address the higher-than-average fatality rate among workers in the communication tower industry. Under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), OSHA must complete such a panel before it can move forward with a proposed rule that could have a significant effect on a substantial number of small businesses. However, beyond completing the panel (which has already concluded), OSHA lists no next steps. The agency is also moving ahead with initiating another small business review panel on a draft rule to address significant hazards to emergency response workers, which is set to begin this month. These two actions are welcomed, but at the slow rate OSHA is addressing hazards, it will be many more years before adequate protections will be developed.

Here’s a complete list of the regulatory and deregulatory actions and delays listed on OSHA’s fall 2018 agenda:

                                                                          OSHA RULES IN PLAY
Rule Name RIN Latest Update Fall 2018 Spring 2018
Standards Improvement Project IV 1218-AC67 OSHA is delaying by 5 months (sliding from July 2018 to Dec. 2018) the date it expects to finalize its 2016 proposed rule to update several existing standards and paperwork requirements identified as unnecessary or duplicative. Final Final
Amendments to Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard 1218-AC81 OSHA is delaying by 6 months (sliding from Dec. 2018 to June 2019) the date it expects to propose a rule to amend its 2010 final standard to make corrections and other clarifications. Proposed Proposed
Communication Tower Safety 1218-AC90 OSHA plans to complete by Oct. 2018 the small business review panel it initiated to consider regulatory approaches the agency ought to take to address the higher-than-average fatality rate among workers in the communication tower industry. The agency does not indicate any next steps. Pre-rule Pre-rule
Emergency Response and Preparedness 1218-AC91 OSHA is moving ahead without delay on its plan to initiate by Oct. 2018 a small business review panel on a draft rule to address significant hazards to emergency response workers. Pre-rule Pre-rule
Update to the Hazard Communication Standard 1218-AC93 OSHA is delaying by 1 month (sliding from Feb. 2019 to March 2019) the date it expects to issue a proposed rule to update the agency’s hazard communication standard to maintain alignment with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification of Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) and other countries that have adopted the GHS. Proposed Proposed
Quantitative Fit Testing Protocol: Amendment to the Final Rule on Respiratory Protection 1218-AC94 OSHA is delaying by 3 months (sliding from Sept. 2018 to Dec. 2018) its plan to finalize a rule that would amend the agency’s respiratory standard finalized in 1998 to incorporate new fit test protocols. Final Final
Rules of Agency Practice and Procedure Concerning OSHA Access to Employee Medical Records 1218-AC95 OSHA is delaying by 6 months (sliding from Dec. 2018 to June 2019) its plans to finalize updates to make more efficient its internal procedures on obtaining and using personally identifiable employee medical information. Final Final
Crane Operator Qualification in Construction 1218-AC96 OSHA plans to finalize by Nov. 2018 a rule specifying what criteria employers use to determine if operators are qualified to operate safely cranes on construction sites. The final rule is currently pending OIRA review (since Oct. 16, 2018). Final Proposed
Mechanical Power Press Update 1218-AC98 OSHA is delaying by 3 months (sliding from Sept. 2018 to Dec. 2018) its expected date for requesting information from the public about how it should proceed with updating its mechanical power presses standard to address the use of hydraulic or pneumatic power presses and other technological changes over the past 40 years. Pre-rule Pre-rule
Powered Industrial Trucks 1218-AC99 OSHA is delaying by 4 months (sliding from June 2018 to Oct. 2018) its expected date for requesting information from the public about how it should proceed with updating its outdated standard on powered industrial trucks. Pre-rule Pre-rule
Lockout/Tag-out Update 1218-AD00 OSHA is delaying by 4 months (sliding from June 2018 to Oct. 2018) its expected date for requesting information from the public about recent technological advancements employing computer-based controls of hazardous energy that conflict with the existing lock-out/tag-out standard. Pre-rule Pre-rule
Tree Care Standard 1218-AD04 OSHA is delaying by 2 months (sliding from Apr. 2019 to June 2019) its expected date for initiating a small business review panel on a draft standard for tree care operations, which it began in response to an industry petition it granted in 2008. Pre-rule Pre-rule
Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Exemption Expansions for Railroad Roadway Work 1218-AD07 OSHA plans to analyze by Dec. 2018 comments it received on its proposed revisions to its Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard to expand the exemptions for railroad roadway work as required by a settlement agreement reached in Sept. 2014. Proposed Proposed
Prevention of Workplace Violence in Healthcare and Social Assistance 1218-AD08 OSHA is delaying by 2 months (sliding from Jan. 2019 to March 2019) its expected date for initiating a small business review panel on a draft standard to prevent workplace violence in health care, which it initiated in response to union petitions it granted in 2017. Pre-rule Pre-rule
Blood Lead Level for Medical Removal 1218-AD10 OSHA is delaying by 2 months (sliding from Jan. 2019 to March 2019) its expected date for issuing an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on strengthening the existing lead standard by lowering the blood lead level at which an employee may be returned to a former job. Pre-rule Pre-rule
Technical Corrections to 35 OSHA Standards and Regulations 1218-AD12 OSHA is delaying by 4 months (sliding from June 2018 to Oct. 2018) its expected date for making technical corrections to certain OSHA standards.

Note: The number of standards and regulations in this agenda item has fluctuated from 16 to 36, and is now at 35.

Final Final
Puerto Rico State Plan 1218-AD13 OSHA is delaying by 3 months (sliding from Dec. 2018 to March 2019) its expected date for giving Puerto Rico’s state plan final approval. Proposed Proposed
Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses 1218-AD17 OSHA plans to finalize by June 2019 its proposal to amend provisions of its 2016 final rule and remove a requirement for employers to submit electronically to OSHA information from the OSHA Form 300 and OSHA Form 301 for establishments with 250 or more employees. Final Proposed
Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica; Revisions to Table 1 in the Standard for Construction 1218-AD18 OSHA is delaying by 1 month (sliding from Nov. 2018 to Dec. 2018) its plan to request information from the public about the effectiveness of control measures not currently included for tasks and tools listed in Table 1 of its crystalline silica standard finalized on March 25, 2016. Pre-rule Pre-rule
Exposure to Beryllium NPRM to Review General Industry Provisions 1218-AD20 OSHA has added this item to its agenda and plans to issue by Dec. 2018 a proposal to revise certain provisions of the beryllium standard for general industry finalized in Jan. 2017. (See also 1218-AB76) Proposed N/A
Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds in Construction and Shipyard Sectors 1218-AD21 OSHA has renumbered this item on its agenda (previously 1218-AB76) and is delaying by 6 months (sliding from Dec. 2018 to June 2019) its plan to finalize a rule revoking ancillary provisions applicable to construction and shipyards from the beryllium standard finalized in Jan. 2017. Final N/A
                                                                      COMPLETED ACTIONS
Occupational Exposure to Beryllium 1218-AB76 OSHA has moved this agenda item to the completed stage and created two new agenda items aimed at revising provisions of the beryllium standard finalized in Jan. 2017 (see 1218-AD20 and 1218-AD21 above). Completed Proposed
Limited Extension of Select Compliance Dates for Occupational Exposure to Beryllium in General Industry 1218-AD19 OSHA added this item to its agenda, extending the compliance date for certain ancillary requirements of the general industry beryllium standard from March 12, 2018 to Dec. 12, 2018. OSHA finalized the extension on Aug. 9, 2018. Completed N/A
Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Operator Certification Extension 1218-AD22 OSHA added this item to its agenda, delaying until Nov. 10, 2018 the deadline for employers to ensure crane operators are certified and extending by the same one-year period the employer duty to ensure crane operators are competent to operate a crane safely. Completed N/A
                                                                      LONG-TERM ACTIONS
Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Recordkeeping Requirements–Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Column 1218-AC45 OSHA will continue to delay indefinitely its plans to restore the MSD column to the OSHA 300 log so that employers and workers can better track these injuries and the agency can collect better statistical data. Long-Term Action Long-Term Action
Infectious Diseases 1218-AC46 OSHA will continue to delay indefinitely the development of a standard to require employers in the health care and similarly high-risk industries to establish a comprehensive infection control program and control measures to protect workers from infectious disease. Long-Term Action Long-Term Action
Process Safety Management and Prevention of Major Chemical Accidents 1218-AC82 OSHA will continue to delay indefinitely the development of a standard to modernize its process safety management standard to prevent major chemical disasters. Long-Term Action Long-Term Action
Shipyard Fall Protection–Scaffolds, Ladders, and Other Working Surfaces 1218-AC85 OSHA will continue to delay indefinitely its plans to assess its options for updating its existing standard on shipyard fall protection to provide more comprehensive coverage and to reflect technological developments. Long-Term Action Long-Term Action

Originally posted here.

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