OSHA Rulemaking Update: What’s in Store for the Rest of 2016 and Beyond

What’s on the horizon for OSHA? The recently published spring 2016 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions for federal agencies provides a look into new OSHA rulemaking activity as well as a status update on regulations already in the works. The latest agenda includes new regulatory actions that could impact many employers in construction and healthcare, new attention on PELs for styrene, and more. Read on for a summary of notable additions and updates in various rulemaking stages.

Prerule Stage:

  • Noise in Construction (New to the Agenda): This rule would enact more protective noise hazard requirements in construction. OSHA states: “Two recent studies of occupational hearing loss conducted by Department of Energy and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health concluded that a significant percentage of construction workers have suffered from hearing loss over the duration of their careers. It has been noted that construction work is excluded from the OSHA Hearing Conservation Amendment that is required for general industry work. Also, existing construction noise requirements lack the specificity of a general hearing conservation program that must be implemented for general industry work.”
  • Preventing Workplace Violence in Healthcare (New to the Agenda): OSHA intends to gather information from healthcare employers, workers and stakeholders on the impact of violence in healthcare workplaces to determine whether to move forward with new rulemaking around industry workplace violence prevention programs.
  • Occupational Exposure to Styrene (New to the Agenda): This rule will determine the need for a revised permissible exposure limit (PEL) for workplaces with employees exposed to styrene – a chemical used in manufacturing various plastic and rubber products that has been linked to respiratory, eye and nervous system ailments.
  • Blood Lead Level for Medical Removal (New to the Agenda): OSHA is exploring options to further prevent harmful exposure to lead for workers in construction and general industry, as current standards are based on toxicity information that is over 35 years old.
  • Updating Requirements for the Selection, Fit Testing, and Use of Hearing Protection Devices (New to the Agenda): This rule would update requirements around hearing protection devices in general industry and construction to help better ensure adequate hearing protection and allow the use of newer technologies to personalize hearing protectors to workers.
  • Combustible Dust (Has remained in Prerule Stage since last year): OSHA has initiated rulemaking for the development of a standard addressing combustible dust hazards in workplaces.

Proposed Rule Stage:

  • Infectious Diseases (Moved from Prerule Stage to Proposed Rule Stage): “OSHA is developing a standard to ensure that employers establish a comprehensive infection control program and control measures to protect employees from infectious disease exposures to pathogens that can cause significant disease.” This affects workplaces such as health care facilities, laboratories and other facilities where there could be increased exposure risk to infectious people.

Final Rule Stage:

  • Clarification of Employer's Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Each Recordable Injury and Illness (Moved from Proposed Rule Stage to Final Rule Stage): OSHA has amended recordkeeping regulations to clarify that employers’ duty to make and maintain accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses is an ongoing obligation, and does not expire if an employer fails to create necessary records when first required to do so.
  • Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips, and Fall Prevention) (Has remained in Final Rule Stage since last year): This rule will update regulations around slip, trip and fall hazards, which are among the leading causes of workplace injuries and fatalities. New regulations will account for updated industry practices and technology.

You can view the full Agenda here.

Keep an eye on this blog for updates, and remember, VelocityEHS is here to help you ensure compliance with existing, new and evolving safety regulations through our platform of solutions covering chemical management, employee training, incident management, risk analysis, and more. Contact us at 1.888.362.2007 for more information.