Federal agencies

Feral cats no longer ‘vermin’ in OSHA’s latest Standards Improvement Project rule

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Washington — Feral cats and social security numbers are among the topics addressed in OSHA’s Standards Improvement Project - Phase IV final rule, intended to remove or revise “outdated, duplicative, unnecessary and inconsistent requirements” in the agency’s safety and health standards.

The SIP rule, published in the May 14 Federal Register, revises 14 standards and “reduces regulatory burden while maintaining or enhancing worker safety and health, and improving privacy protections.”

OSHA estimates an annual cost savings of $6.1 million as a result of these changes, which include eliminating the required collection of an employee’s SSN in 19 standards.

OSHA received more than 500 comments in support of removing feral cats from its list of “vermin” in its shipyard standards. Almost half were from a mass mailing campaign, which claimed, “Many shipyard employers and their employees value the cats both for companionship and as a means of controlling rodent populations. Classifying shipyard cats as ‘vermin’ will likely lead to their mistreatment and interfere with the trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs used to manage their numbers and keep the cats healthy.”

In the rule, OSHA adds, “Commenters stated that cats in fact assist at shipyards in controlling vermin, such as rodents and mice, without the hazards associated with the use of pesticides or chemicals.” Feral cats are now considered “other animals.”

The SIP rule also eliminates required periodic chest X-ray screenings for lung cancer in three standards, lowers the minimum breaking strength requirement for lifelines, and updates traffic signage to comply with the 2009 edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices – including its two revisions from May 2012.


OSHA chose not to advance revisions concerning lockout/tagout in general industry, personal protective equipment fit in construction, the excavation construction standard or decompression tables in its underground construction standard.

The agency’s revisions, scheduled to go in effect July 15, are part of an ongoing effort and the first since 2011.

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