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Spring 2020 regulatory agenda: OSHA infectious diseases standard remains ‘long-term action’

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Washington — OSHA moved three items off its list of long-term actions in the Department of Labor’s regulatory agenda for Spring 2020, but – as expected – a standard on infectious diseases wasn’t among them.

Acting agency administrator Loren Sweatt indicated during a May 28 hearing convened by the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee that such a standard would remain in limbo. As the phrase indicates, the “long-term action” list is for potential standards that won’t see progress anytime in the near future.

Released July 1, the agenda – issued by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs twice a year – gives the status of and projected dates for all potential regulations listed in three stages: pre-rule, proposed rule and final rule.

The three items moved from the previous agenda’s long-term actions are standards that would permit post-incident drug testing and safety incentive programs, clarify fit requirements for personal protective equipment in construction, and address procedures for handling retaliation complaints under the Taxpayer First Act of 2019. The latter item is listed in the final rule stage, with an interim final rule scheduled for November, while the others are in the proposed rule stage.

Another item now in the final rule stage is a standard for handling retaliation complaints under whistleblower protection statutes. So too is a rule that would make the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health a nondiscretionary committee instead of a discretionary one, an action required by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.

Moving to the final rule stage from the proposed rule stage are changes to OSHA’s beryllium rules for the construction and shipyard industries, with a final rule coming as soon as this month.

Three items remained in final rule stage from the Fall 2019 agenda:

One new proposed rule involves medical removal protections for OSHA’s silica regulations. Three other regulations moved from pre-rule to proposed rule:

 

The Mine Safety and Health Administration’s lone regulation in the final rule stage also is a holdover from previous agendas and concerns refuge alternatives for underground coal mines.

A new proposed rule for MSHA seeks to revise testing, evaluation and approval regulations for mine equipment and accessories powered by electric motors. A rule on respirable quartz – largely responsible for recent increases in black lung disease – moved from pre-rule to the proposed rule stage.

MSHA’s retrospective study on its coal mine dust rule is listed as a long-term action.

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