On Safety

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Looking ahead: Future OSHA rules

December 28, 2015
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I recently wrote about the most notable rules listed on OSHA’s fall regulatory agenda that are likely to be completed before President Barack Obama leaves office. But the agency is looking beyond 2016 for final rules.

The agenda, published in November, lists six new potential rules. Some are supported by industry, and several seek to modernize existing standards. All proposals will seek stakeholder input of some kind, potentially later in 2016.

The dates for Requests for Information and stakeholder meetings are listed below for each rule. However, considering that OSHA routinely fails to meet regulatory agenda dates, it’s up in the air as to when these public outreaches will occur. Regardless, it’s a safe bet that OSHA is working on these rules, and stakeholder input will be solicited.

The potential new rules included in the agenda are:

  • Mechanical Power Presses – Should the current OSHA standard be updated to address hydraulic or pneumatic power presses? An RFI could happen in September.
  • Powered Industrial Trucks – Should OSHA update its current regulation to meet consensus standards? The Industrial Truck Association thinks so. An RFI could be issued in October.
  • Lockout/Tagout – The current standard conflicts with computer-based controls of hazardous energy. Should OSHA modernize its standard as employers update their programs with new technology? An RFI could be announced in September.
  • Revocation of Obsolete Permissible Exposure Limits – Revoking certain PELs actually may create safer workplaces, as OSHA could then use the General Duty Clause to enforce stronger protections. So which PELs should go? An RFI could happen in July.
  • Tree care – OSHA currently has a “patchwork” of standards for this industry, and the Tree Care Industry Association is pushing the agency for a rule specific to the industry’s hazards and work environment. A stakeholder meeting could happen in June. (Check out my column in the February issue of Safety+Health for more information on this potential rule.)
  • 1-bromopropane – An organic solvent that could be carcinogenic, 1-bromopropane currently is unregulated by OSHA. An RFI could happen in August.

The opinions expressed in "On Safety" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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