Federal agencies

Four standards back on OSHA’s radar in spring regulatory agenda

OSHA Agenda
Photo: Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

Despite the Trump administration’s focus on deregulation, OSHA is set to move ahead on four standards previously relegated to “long-term action” status, according to the Department of Labor’s Spring 2018 regulatory agenda, released May 9.

OSHA’s Emergency Response and Preparedness, Prevention of Workplace Violence in Health Care and Social Assistance, and Tree Care standards have moved to the pre-rule stage. The agency’s attempt to update the Hazard Communication Standard to the seventh edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (it currently operates on the third edition) now is listed in the proposed rule stage.

The opportunity to work on the new regulations comes months after the administration revealed plans for OSHA and other agencies to “finalize three deregulatory actions for every new regulatory action in 2018” in the regulatory agenda for fall 2017.

Less than two weeks after his inauguration, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order requiring federal agencies to cut two regulations for every new one proposed. The White House published a guidance memo three days later clarifying that the Executive Order would apply only to those regulations with a proposed cost of $100 million or more.

Jordan Barab, former OSHA deputy assistant secretary, stated in a May 10 post on his “Confined Space” blog that he has yet to see the Executive Order invoked. He added that because of the complications involved with the “2-for-1” plan, “None of these new standards are likely to see the light of day during this Presidential term. But any forward movement is always welcome.”

OSHA moved its beryllium standard, formerly in the final rule stage, back to the proposed rule stage because of forthcoming changes stemming from an Appeals Court settlement with four petitioners on April 24. The agency also has moved back the Crane Operator Qualification in Construction standard to the proposed rule stage after indicating that a revised standard was on the horizon in its fiscal year 2019 congressional budget justification.

Along with the four standards that have moved from long-term actions, the Communication Tower Safety standard is slated for a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act review this month. That typically is one of the intermediate steps in the regulatory process.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration, meanwhile, added a power haulage standard to the pre-rule stage. MSHA administrator David Zatezalo said in a Feb. 6 hearing before the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee that power haulage safety is one of the points of emphasis for the agency this year. He noted that 43 percent of the 28 mining deaths in 2017 were linked to power haulage.

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