A Look at OSHA’s Latest Regulatory Agenda

OSHA’s latest semiannual regulatory agenda was released on Nov. 2. It lists the priorities of the administration and the rulemakings they expect to release this year.

Confined Spaces
What to Expect: According to the agenda, OSHA plans to release a final rule on confined spaces in March 2015. 

About the Proposal: The proposal updates and expands a rule that OSHA issued in the early 1990s for the general industry that the construction industry has followed to protect employees who enter confined spaces. The general industry rule was not originally extended to construction because of the unique characteristics of the industry’s worksites, but the rule has proven effective. A 2007 settlement forced OSHA to issue a separate proposed rule for construction workers in confined spaces. 

ABC’s Actions: ABC and other construction groups weighed in on the proposal, arguing that OSHA had not demonstrated that the general industry standard was not working for construction, and stated that the adoption of the proposed rule would actually reduce employee safety rather than increase it. ABC recommended that OSHA incorporate existing standards instead of adopting a new standard.  

Electronic Recordkeeping
What to Expect: OSHA plans to issue a final rule in August 2015

About the Proposal: Under the new rule, employers would have to electronically submit detailed injury and illness records to the agency on a quarterly or annual basis that would be posted on an online publically searchable database. OSHA would require establishments that have employed between 20 and 249 employees at any time in the previous calendar year electronically submit a form (OSHA Form 300A) on an annual basis. Establishments that employed 250 or more employees in the previous calendar year would be required to electronically submit the OSHA 300A form annually and submit the OSHA Forms 300 and 301 quarterly.

ABC’s Actions: ABC submitted comments to OSHA requesting that it withdraw the proposed rule and supplemental notice stating it exceeds the authority delegated to the agency by Congress and does nothing to achieve its stated goal of reducing injuries and illnesses. In addition, the ABC-led Coalition for Workplace Safety (CWS) expressed serious concerns over the proposal in writing and at an OSHA public meeting

Cranes and Derricks Certification 
What to Expect: OSHA plans to issue a proposed rule in March 2015, to clarify issues surrounding crane operator qualification.

About the Proposal: This rulemaking is in response to the agency issuing a three year extension (Deadline is Nov. 10, 2017) for employers to ensure that crane operators are certified by an OSHA-recognized accredited certification body. The proposed rule will address the "type and capacity" requirement from the 2010 final construction cranes standard.  

ABC’s Actions:
ABC submitted comments and testified at an informal public hearing supporting the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health's (ACCSH) recommendation of postponing the certification indefinitely until OSHA has clarified the “type” and “capacity” issue and continuing the same employer duties for that same period. 

Other Upcoming Proposals
OSHA also plans to move forward with proposed and final rules on a range of other issues of importance to the construction industry.  Long Term Action Items 
  • Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2); Long Term Action
  • Vehicle backover injuries and fatalities; Long Term Action
  • Occupational injury and illness recording and reporting requirements –musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) column; Long Term Action