Regulation

Currently, the Coalition for Workplace Safety is actively monitoring a broad array of regulatory endeavors, including:

Department of Labor’s Budget Request for FY2011 for OSHA

The FY2011 Department of Labor Budget request for OSHA contains an increase of $14 million over all, with more than half of these funds aimed at increasing federal enforcement. The $7.7 million increase for enforcement includes shifting nearly $4 million from funds used for compliance assistance and the transfer of 35 employees from compliance assistance to enforcement, as well as hiring 25 new compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs). Compliance assistance and cooperative programs have played an important role in the last 15 years in making the workplace safer, as proven by the declining fatality, injury and illness rates. As we have noted, the Coalition for Workplace Safety believes shifting resources away from sucessful cooperative and compliance assistance programs is a mistake. More information on the budget request is available here.

National Emphasis Program on Recordkeeping

In September 2009, OSHA began a year-long National Emphasis Program to focus on ensuring the accuracy of injury and illness recording and reporting. The Coalition for Workplace Safety feels strongly that safety regulations must be developed with full transparency of the data, science, and studies relied upon. Current data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrate a continued trend of improved workplace safety, as shown by by subsequent reductions in injury and illness rates. More information is available on the OSHA Website, by clicking here.

Combustible Dust

OSHA is considering rulemaking to develop a combustible dust standard for general industry. While many existing housekeeping standards already address the hazards related to the accumulation of potentially combustible dust and particles, the agency is seeking to develop a specific standard. These efforts are currently in the “pre-rule stage.” The agency has engaged in an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking and is currently in the process of holding stakeholder meetings. As OSHA moves through rulemaking process, we hope that it will recognize the complexity of regulating these potential hazards, and refrain from a one-size-fits-all approach to developing a standard, and consider the effectiveness of more targeted regulatory actions. More information is available on the OSHA Website, by clicking here.

Proposed Recordkeeping Requirement on “Musculoskeletal Disorders”

On January 29, OSHA proposed changes to its recordkeeping rules that would add a new column to OSHA 300 logs and require employers to track “work-related” musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The proposal also contains an overly broad definition of recordable “MSDs” which significantly expands which conditions must be captured on employer logs. Ten years ago, OSHA had proposed a similar definition of MSDs in conjunction with efforts to develop a workplace ergonomic standard. The ergonomics standard was rejected by Congress in 2001, while the separate MSD definition was not fully implemented as a result of a settlement agreement reached by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Department of Labor in 2001. OSHA insists that the proposed rulemaking will simply require employers to “check a box” on their OSHA 300 logs. However, the proposal is much broader in its scope. As proposed, this rulemaking would require employers to treat subjective symptoms as potential recordable incidents. OSHA has not justified the reason for the new definition, and there is no evidence that the science of MSDs and issues related to such disorders have changed to warrant this revised definition While this proposal is not an ergonomics standard, it is evidence of OSHA’s interest to pursue broader ergonomics regulation by collecting data that will likely yield inaccurate and overstated results. For more information, click here.

GHS Hazard Communication

OSHA is in the process of finalizing rulemaking to implement a system of chemical hazard communication that would be standardized among existing global systems. OSHA’s proposal would require the manufacturers and importers of chemicals to provide information related to the potential hazards that exist with the handling and use of a wide array of chemicals. This proposal would require a standardized approach to labeling chemicals, providing data sheets and providing training to workers for the safe handling of such chemicals. This proposed rulemaking is expected to be finalized soon. More information is available on the OSHA Website, by clicking here.

Compliance Assistance

OSHA maintains a wide variety of programs designed to engage the employer community in better understanding and compliance with existing workplace safety standards and regulations. These programs provide employers with valuable resources to make workplace safer. As the network of workplace safety rules are complex, these types of programs help ensure a cooperative approach to compliance more effectively than punitive efforts performed by the agency. OSHA provides a range of such programs that are designed to assist a wide range of stakeholders, including individual employers, associations of related industries and small and medium sized employers, which often need advice and assistance from trained OSHA professionals. Currently, OSHA has announced plans to change the function of Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), which may undermine the goal of the program to allow employers work cooperatively with the agency without the threat of punitive enforcement actions taking place during consultative visits. For more information click here.

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