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What OSHA final rules are coming up?

December 17, 2015

As the Obama administration prepares to enter its final year, the most recent regulatory agenda shows what loose ends OSHA is hoping to tie up.

Quick disclaimer: The dates listed in the regulatory agenda are quite often missed. But the purpose of the agenda is not to set in stone certain deadlines, but to lay out for the public where in the rulemaking process the agency is and what its plans are – the agenda is a rough guide.

The fall agenda, released a couple of weeks ago, pegs February as when an OSHA final rule on silica could be issued. This is a pretty aggressive date considering the rule hasn’t yet been sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review. OMB reviews, required for major rules, are intended to be no longer than 90 days. But the proposed rule on silica issued in 2013 was under review for more than two-and-a-half years. Although I gather that the Obama administration will move a bit quicker for the final rule to get it out before Inauguration Day 2017, it’s doubtful we’ll see it before the end of this winter.

Two final standards that could come out a bit sooner than silica are the agency’s rules to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses, and for slip, trip and fall prevention. According to the regulatory agenda, the former is due in March and the latter in April. Both rules are currently under OMB review – injury tracking for about 80 days and STF for about twice the 90-day limit. If OMB wraps up these reviews, OSHA could finalize both rules in relatively short time.

Even though the agenda doesn’t actually give a date for a final rule on beryllium, it’s likely to come out relatively soon. A notice of proposed rulemaking was published this past August, and the regulatory agenda notes that the agency will be analyzing stakeholder comments of the proposal. Given that the only U.S. beryllium producer supports the rule, the next agenda (expected this spring) may well tell us to look for a final rule later in 2016.

These are final rules that we could reasonably expect from OSHA in the near future. But what about rules that may be further down the line? Check out my next blog post ("Looking ahead at future OSHA rules") for the rules newly added to the regulatory agenda.

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

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