Federal agencies

OSHA proposes rule to streamline 18 standards

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OSHA_logo -- Aug 2013

Washington – In an effort to ease burdens on employers, OSHA has issued a proposed rule that would “remove or revise outdated, duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent requirements” in 18 standards concerning recordkeeping, general industry, maritime and construction.

The Standards Improvement Project – Phase IV rule is in response to Executive Order 13563, which called for regulations that are “accessible, consistent, written in plain language, and easy to understand.”

One of the proposed changes is the removal of the word “unexpected” when referring to servicing and maintenance operations “in which the unexpected energization or startup of the machines or equipment, or the release of stored energy could cause injury to employees” in the agency’s Lockout/Tagout Standard.

Other changes would include, as worded in the standard, the updating of three standards to align with current medical practice, including a reduction to the number of necessary employee X-rays, updates to requirements for pulmonary function testing, and updates to the table used for decompression of employees during underground construction. Additionally, the proposed revisions include an update to the consensus standard incorporated by reference for signs and devices used to protect workers near automobile traffic, a revision to the requirements for roll-over protective structures to comply with current consensus standards, and updates for storage of digital X-rays and the method of calling emergency services to allow for use of current technology. OSHA is also proposing to remove from its standards the requirements that employers include an employee’s social security number on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, and other records in order to protect employee privacy and prevent identity fraud.

“The changes we propose will modernize OSHA standards, help employers better understand their responsibilities, increase compliance and reduce compliance costs,” OSHA administrator David Michaels said in an Oct. 4 press release. “Most importantly, these revisions will improve the safety and health protections afforded to workers across all industries.”

OSHA claims the proposed revisions would save employers an estimated $3.2 million annually.

The agency is seeking public comment on the proposed rule. Comments are due Dec. 5.

Phase III of the Standards Improvement Project rule was enacted in 2011.

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