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In the Department of Labor (DOL) 2012 regulatory agenda released in January, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) listed action items on Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (I2P2); confined spaces in construction; crystalline silica exposure limits; and walking work surfaces; among other issues.

According to its agenda, OSHA is planning to move forward with its proposed rule on I2P2 by conducting a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act Small Business Advocacy Review Panel. The process was initiated on Jan. 6 when OSHA notified the Small Business Administration of its intention to convene a panel in order to gather more information from small businesses on the impact of the proposed rule. Although no proposal has been made available to stakeholders, it is believed that under the I2P2 rule, employers will be required to implement internal safety programs that “find and fix” workplace hazards on a rolling basis. 

Also on the regulatory agenda, OSHA is expected to release a final rule expanding its regulation for the general industry on confined spaces to include construction. The final rule is tentatively scheduled for June, but OSHA is not required to strictly adhere to the timeline. ABC testified at an informal hearing on the rule in 2008, asking OSHA to incorporate existing standards instead of choosing to adopt an entirely new standard. 

Another rule OSHA said it plans to issue deals with walking work surfaces and fall protection systems, which ABC filed comments (PDF) on in August 2010, asking that the construction-related rule more closely follow the rule in the general industry to avoid confusion. Final action is expected in October to update the rule, which according to the agency needs to more accurately reflect current technology. 

OSHA also listed a proposed rule on its agenda for February that would alter the permissible exposure limits for crystalline silica. The draft proposal of the rule, under review since Feb. 14, could lower the exposure limits for crystalline silica dust in addition to setting new requirements on engineering controls and regulated areas. The Office of Management and Budget formally extended the review after a series of meetings that included ABC and other industry representatives. 

In addition, the agenda listed plans to gather information about employee safety risks in reinforcing operations in concrete work in the construction industry and fatal backovers by vehicles and equipment with the possibility of updating current rules regarding reinforcing steel and post-tensioning activities. 

The contentious rule on musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) reporting requirements has been moved to long-term action. Under the MSD proposed rule, the OSHA Form 300 would have been revised to include an additional reporting column for MSDs. OSHA temporarily withdrew the proposal in January 2011 to gather more feedback from small businesses, and the FY 2012 omnibus spending law now prohibits the agency from pursuing the proposal in fiscal year 2012.

OSHA also released its FY 2013 budget proposal, which includes a $5 million increase and 37 new inspectors for enforcement. The budget includes a $1 million increase for developing standards, and a $3.2 million decrease in federal compliance assistance programs, which will impact the Voluntary Protection Program. 

To view OSHA’s full agenda, visit DOL’s regulatory homepage. To view OSHA’s FY 2013 budget proposal, visit DOL’s budget homepage