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In its regulatory agenda released Dec. 21, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) listed action items on Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (I2P2), confined spaces in construction and crystalline silica exposure limits for 2013.

According to its agenda, OSHA will issue a proposed rule on I2P2 by December. The proposal would require employers to implement internal safety programs that “find and fix” workplace hazards on a rolling basis under penalty of enforcement.

Although the agency also listed January as the completion date for conducting a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act Small Business Advocacy Review Panel of I2P2, OSHA has made insufficient progress toward that goal. The review process, which is intended to gather information from small businesses about the impact of the rule, takes 90 days to complete. 

If implemented, the I2P2 proposal likely will result in significant costs and compliance burdens and could lead to “double-dip” citations (once under existing rules, and once under the new requirements), in addition to negatively impacting employers that already have effective safety and health programs.  

Also on the regulatory agenda, OSHA is expected to release a final rule in July on confined spaces in construction. In the early 1990s, OSHA issued a rule to protect employees who enter confined spaces for the general industry, but did not extend it to construction because of the unique characteristics of the industry’s worksites. A 2007 settlement then caused OSHA to issue a separate proposed rule for construction workers in confined spaces.

In 2008, ABC testified at an informal hearing, asking OSHA to incorporate existing standards instead of choosing to adopt an entirely new standard. Some businesses pointed out that proposed rule could even reduce employee safety rather than increasing it. 

In addition, OSHA listed a proposed rule on its agenda for May that would alter the permissible exposure limits for crystalline silica dust. The draft proposal of the rule, under review since Feb. 14, 2012, would not only lower the exposure limits, but also would set new requirements on engineering controls and regulated areas.

The Office of Management and Budget formally extended review of the proposal after a series of meetings that included ABC and other industry representatives. ABC and the construction industry have expressed concerns about the economic and technological feasibility of compliance with such changes and the possibility of inconsistency or conflict with other federal regulatory requirements. 

OSHA also plans to move forward with proposed and final rules on a range of other issues of importance to the construction industry:
  - Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements (Amputations and Hospitalizations) 
Final Rule: May 2013  
  - Cooperative/Consultation Agreements: Proposed Changes to Consultation Procedures (Onsite Consultation Program) 
Final Rule: April 2013  
  - Electronic Reporting of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
Proposed Rule: May 2013  
  - Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips, and Fall Prevention) :  
Final Rule: August 2013  
  - Construction Standards Improvement Project  
Proposed Rule: Published Dec. 6, 2012; comments open until February 2013 
  - Updating OSHA Standards Based on National Consensus Standards—Hazard Signage 
Direct Final Rule: April 2013  
  - Vehicle Backover Injuries and Fatalities  
Public Meeting: Held January/February 2013; comments open until July 2013 

In the section for long-term actions, OSHA has listed its contentious rule on musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) reporting requirements, which means the next actions have not been determined. 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 a fiscal year 2012 omnibus spending law prohibited the agency from pursuing the proposal in FY 2012.

Information on other Department of Labor agenda items can be found in the article, "DOL Agenda Lists Imminent Actions on Persuader, OFCCP Affirmative Action Rules."