Component 23 – 2
Search Newsline

According to OSHA’s latest semiannual regulatory agenda, released Nov. 27, the agency plans to issue a final rule on confined spaces and a notice of proposed rulemaking on injury and illness prevention programs (I2P2) in 2014. The regulatory agenda lists the priorities of the administration and the rulemakings they expect to release this year; however, OSHA is not required to adhere to the timeline.

OSHA also has listed on its agenda its notice of proposed rulemaking on crystalline silica, which was issued Sept. 12 and would drastically lower the existing permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica, prescribe control methods that contradict existing safety practice, and mandate new recordkeeping and training requirements. In October, the public comment period was extended by 47 days until Jan. 27. More than 25 business organizations, including ABC, the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) and others in the industry, joined the U.S. House of Representatives Education and the Workforce Committee, the House Small Business Committee and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy in requesting the additional time for stakeholders to appropriately analyze OSHA’s proposal, develop useful data and provide meaningful feedback. Most requests, including ABC’s, asked for 90 days. In response to the 47 day extension, ABC and CISC both reiterated the need for OSHA to grant the full 90 days and submitted a second extension request.

ABC, as part of the CISC, expressed concern over the silica proposal.

Tracking Injury and Illness Data
On Nov. 8, OSHA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require employers to submit specific injury and illness data electronically to OSHA on a quarterly or annual basis that would be posted in an online publicly searchable database. Under the rule, establishments with 250 or more employees will be required to submit injury and illness records on a quarterly basis to OSHA.  Establishments with 20 or more employees in industries with high injury and illness rates (construction), will be required to submit a summary of their work-related injuries and illnesses electronically once a year. 

OSHA’s agenda reflects the 90-day public comment period for the proposal, which ends Feb. 6, 2014. 
Confined Spaces
According to the agenda, OSHA plans to release a final rule on confined spaces in February 2014
OSHA issued a rule in the early 1990s 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. 

OSHA’s I2P2 proposal would require employers to implement internal safety programs that “find and fix” workplace hazards on a rolling basis under penalty of enforcement. 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.  

Although OSHA has listed September 2014 for a notice of proposed rulemaking, the agency must conduct a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) Small Business Advocacy Review Panel of I2P2 before it can issue the proposal. The review process, which is intended to gather information from small businesses about, takes 90 days to complete and has not been scheduled. 

Cranes and Derricks
OSHA has listed December 2013 to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking that will delay the crane-operator certification requirement in the 2010 standard on cranes and derricks in construction for three years until November 2017. 

Other Upcoming Proposals, Final Rules and Long Term Action
OSHA also plans to move forward with proposed and final rules on a range of other issues of importance to the construction industry:

Electric power transmission and distribution; electrical protective equipment
Final rule November 2013 

Occupational injury and illness recording and reporting requirements (amputations and hospitalizations)
Final rule April 2014 

Walking working surfaces and personal fall protection systems (slips, trips, and fall prevention)
Final rule June 2014  

Vehicle backover injuries and fatalities
SBREFA panel June 2014 

Clarification of employer's continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness  
Proposed rule March 2014 

Amendments to the cranes and derricks in construction standard
Proposed pule January 2014 

Combustible dust
SPREFA panel April 2014  

Occupational injury and illness recording and reporting requirements--musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) column
Long term action