After years of calling I2P2 its number one priority, OSHA has quietly moved its controversial proposal — which would require employers to proactively seek out and fix workplace hazards — to the legislative back-burner. The jury is still out whether this move signals the death knell for I2P2 or is simply a strategic reshuffling of its regulatory deck.
The first major inkling that something was off came this Spring when OSHA moved the I2P2 rule (RIN 1218-AC48) to its Long-Term Action list on its spring 2014 regulatory agenda. BNA.com covered the news in a strong article by Stephen Lee, Robert Iafolla, and Bruce Rolfsen in which they reported on the reaction by union activists who had steadfastly supported the proposed rule.
The piece quotes Eric Frumin, safety and health director at the labor federation Change to Win, who states, “Yes, it's disappointing. For individual rules, maybe one or two [delays] doesn't make that much of a difference. But for rules that would save lives and force clueless employers to do the basics, these are terrible frustrations, and workers and their families are going to pay the price.”
However, not everyone is broken up to see the legislation shelved. Small business and allies in Congress were particularly concerned about whether an I2P2 standard would set employers up to face double jeopardy for safety failings.
In conversations MSDSonline has had with OSHA contacts, the word is OSHA is looking to move forward this year with several other rules (e.g. silica rulemaking, beryllium rule, and Recordkeeping changes slated for 2015) and simply did not have the bandwidth to tackle I2P2 in addition to the other standards.
The I2P2 downgrading is a blow to Dr. Michaels, who has passionately fought for its existence; however, it does not change the fact that I2P2 type legislation exists on the state level in some form in over 34 states.