OF SAFETY ENGINEERS
1800 East Oakton Street
Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-2187
February 20, 2007
The Honorable Edwin G. Foulke, Jr.
Assistant Secretary of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
OSHA Docket Office
Docket No. S-778B
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Dear Assistant Secretary Foulke:
The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) represents 30,000 safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals committed to helping ensure that every occupational setting is safe, healthy and protected from risks. Our members are located in every state and can be found in every industry leading SH&E initiatives that help make sure workers are able to go home from their jobs safe and healthy each day. ASSE is also the secretariat for many ANSI national consensus standards that enhance safety and health management in occupational settings and are at times incorporated by reference into mandatory agency standards.
We are pleased to submit the following comments concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) rule that is part of its ongoing Standards Improvement Project (SIP). (71 Fed. Reg. 76623, December 21, 2006 – Standards Improvement Project – Phase III). We ask that these comments be included in the administrative record under Docket No. S-778-B.
To the extent that it is appropriate and, consistent with the directive in the preamble to the ANPRM, ASSE also consents to the inclusion of these comments in the Consensus Update Project rulemaking initiative. See 69 Fed. Reg. 68283 (November 24, 2004). Although this phase of the SIP does not focus on updating consensus standards, ASSE is mindful of the directives in the Technology Transfer Act of 1995, as implemented by OMB Circular A-119, and therefore we encourage the agency to always consider appropriate transparent, national consensus standards that may be relevant when updating OSHA regulations or embarking upon establishment of new mandatory standards governing occupational safety and health.
For example, to the extent that training issues arise in this or future standards projects, ASSE encourages adoption or at least inclusion in an appendix of information relating to ANSI Z490.1. OSHA has done so in the past: e.g., in its latest electrical standard update, the Z490.1 standard has been included as reference in the non-mandatory Appendix A, to be used as a guideline to help employers with implementing the requirements for electrical installation and safe work practices and procedures. 72 Fed. Reg. 7136 at 7176 (Feb. 14, 2007).
ASSE commends OSHA on embarking on this latest standards revision, and the agency’s recognition that the affected standards (like others identified by ASSE in various communications with the agency concerning the first two phases of the SIP) incorporates by reference significantly outdated versions of consensus standards, thus not providing the level of protection to workers that would otherwise be possible. It is also well-recognized in the safety community that some OSHA standards have duplicate or conflicting requirements which work to the detriment of a unified safety and health program or otherwise are wasteful of resources that could be better utilized to protect workers. Therefore, we support the agency in its efforts to harmonize its existing standards and to streamline, where possible, paperwork requirements while still maintaining equivalent levels of protection for employees.
With respect to the specific proposals in the instant ANPRM, ASSE provides the following comments for consideration:
A) Compliance with NFPA 101-2000 Life Safety Codes (§ 1910.35): This proposal addresses updating Subpart E relative to Exit Routes and was initiated by a petition from the International Code Council. Because three former building codes have evolved into a single code, offering equivalent protection, ASSE supports the proposal to adopt the NFPA standard. Permitting adherence to the IBC for employees, employers, and the building industry without compromising safety. We are not aware of any alternative national building codes that should be considered as alternatives to this proposal.
B) Subpart H – Hazardous Materials (§ 1910.106 and 1910.107): This section references updating these standards to reference selected portions of NFPA 33 and NFPA 30, relative to composite manufacturing operations. The current versions of these were adopted in 2003, but updates are in progress at this moment. Since there will be some time between completion of this phase of the rulemaking and promulgation of a proposed rule, ASSE encourages the agency to consider adopting a 2007 version and eliciting comment on that version, once it becomes available, rather than adopting an already outdated version. ASSE is prepared to supplement its comments concerning whether NFPA 33 and NFPA 30 provide equivalent protection to 1910.106 and 1910.107 once we have an opportunity to review the 2007 editions of these national consensus standards.
C) Subpart I – Personal Protective Equipment (§ 1910.132 and 1915.152): This proposal is likely to be the most controversial portion of the SIP Phase III. In its current personal protective equipment (PPE) standards, OSHA does not include a mandatory written, formal hazard assessment but it does require the employer to certify that an evaluation has been performed, the date of such assessment and a statement identifying the document as the mandatory certification. However, the employer is neither required to post the hazard assessment certification nor to document the assessment methodology or efficacy. OSHA has solicited comment on whether employers should have to include the results of the hazard assessment in the certification and post the document for review by employees.
All industries benefit from performing hazard assessments. Moreover, it is difficult to benchmark the effectiveness of such assessments if they are not documented in some manner for future review. That being said, ASSE is not supportive of simply requiring paperwork for its own sake or simply to facilitate citations during enforcement actions. To encourage compliance, paperwork requirements need to be rational and designed to allow efficient responses.
We would urge OSHA to consider a more rational, efficient approach to achieve its aim in this proposal that would both encourage compliance as well as improve attention to the need for hazard assessments among employers. ASSE recommends scrapping the hazard assessment certification requirement in its entirety but broadening the mandatory written, formal hazard assessment to include all PPE. At the same time, we would urge OSHA to include language requiring that such assessments be conducted by a person knowledgeable in safety principles. For typically large employers with a multiplicity of risks, such hazard assessments should be conducted by safety and health professionals with nationally recognized accredited certifications like the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) or Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). Ensuring appropriate professional involvement would negate the need for a certification process that has not proven necessary already. With this approach, the requirements are simplified for employers and safety and health in the workplace is advanced.
Further, ASSE notes that many of the consensus standards related to PPE include hazard assessment components. Perhaps some of these could be included in Appendices to the rule, as guidance for employers who may lack knowledge on how to properly conduct hazard assessments. See e.g., ANSI Z87.1 (eye and face protection), ANSI Z41 (footwear), and ANSI Z359 (fall arrest equipment). Similar hazard assessment methods are also included in the lockout/tagout consensus standard, ANSI Z244 and in the confined space consensus standard, ANSI Z117.
D) Respiratory Protection (§ 1910.134): OSHA is soliciting comment on whether to make mandatory Appendix D, concerning the voluntary use of respiratory protection by employees. This information is already required to be provided to workers, and failure to do so is a frequent trigger for OSHA citations as a practical matter because many employers seem unaware of this requirement. Because provision of the information is mandatory, it is quite confusing to label Appendix D “non-mandatory.” Therefore making the Appendix mandatory may foster compliance and actually reduce the potential for citations by clarifying the employer’s responsibilities.
E) Subject J – General Environmental Controls, Sanitation Standard (§ 1910.141): ASSE is not aware of any invalid references to federal standards utilized by OSHA in this standard, but does support harmonization of future OSHA standards concerning potable drinking water with those of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration. ASSE urges OSHA to take note of a draft ANSI/ASSE A10.25-200X Standard for Sanitation in Construction, which establishes practices for sanitation construction and demolition operations and the Portable Sanitation Association International Standard BSR 74.3-2205 presenting minimum requirements of all devices now available and acceptable for disposal of human waste where lack of water of temporary nature of the installation makes water carriage systems impractical.
F) Carcinogens, 4-Nitrobiphenyl etc. (§ 1910.1003): ASSE supports restating the former respirator-use requirements in 1910.1003(c)(4)(iv) so that all 13 standards included in this consolidated rule will have the same respirator requirements. We are not aware of any inherent conflict between this approach and the requirements contained in § 1910.134.
G) Lead (§ 1910.1025 and 1926.62): OSHA has included the lead rule in the SIP because there are several provisions where the airborne concentrations at which protective actions are mandated vary slightly – e.g., some specify “above the AL” or “at or above the PEL” when dealing with triggers for actions such as exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, and exposure controls. The clarifying language suggested in Table 1 of the ANPRM will make the provisions of the standard internally consistent and will assist industrial hygienists and safety professionals conform to the requirements more easily while not diminishing worker safety. ASSE will consider whether there are other air contaminant or substance-specific standards that have other inherent inconsistencies that should also be addressed by the agency in future phases of the SIP.
H) 1,3 Butadiene ( § 1910.1051): ASSE agrees that, since fit-testing is mandated already under § 1910.134, it is duplicative to have the same requirement under § 1910.1051. We agree that this should be deleted.
I) Asbestos (§ 1915.1001): ASSE supports revising the shipyard respirator program requirements to conform with those in the asbestos standards for general industry (§ 1910.1001) and construction (§ 1926.1101), and by deleting the specific fit-testing requirements in favor of adopting those in § 1910.134.
J) General Modifications to Medical Examinations and Industrial Hygiene Sampling Provisions: This is a broadly based inquiry on whether there exist advances in medical testing and industrial hygiene sampling technologies that should be implemented or permitted for OSHA health standards. As a general rule, ASSE supports using the most advanced and precise sampling and analytical methods as these will increase the reliability of data and, consequently, be of maximum protection to workers. As sources for such information, ASSE refers OSHA to consider the many sampling methods developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, as well as the substance-specific sampling methods regularly developed and made publicly available through the E34 (occupational safety and health) and D22 (workplace atmospheres) committees of ASTM International.
K) General Modification to Training Provisions: As noted above, ASSE recommends consideration of the ANSI Z490.1 consensus standard when considering if training requirements should be enhanced for specific standards or as part of a general program for occupational safety and health management. Those who perform training should certainly be competent (e.g., have the necessary knowledge, ability to communicate, and to evaluate the efficacy of training) or qualified if training deals with a specialized task (e.g., crane operations), which may demand additional demonstration of skills through examination processes. However, for general task training, the requirements will not be one-size-fits-all and it would be difficult to quantify a specific experience level or skill set for all OSHA general industry training standards.
L) Miscellaneous Items: ASSE supports the sensible proposal to delete the medical records retention requirement from the commercial diving standard, given that there is no longer a requirement for team medical examinations. ASSE also supports including a definition of “Hazardous Ships’ Stores” to the marine terminal standard that is consistent with the same definition in 46 CFR 147.
M) General Solicitation for Recommendations: At the present time, ASSE does not have any specific recommendations for standards that require updating to make them more protective of employee safety and health, other than its general position that the air contaminants standard permissible exposure limits (PELs) are quite outdated and require revision. ASSE suggests that the PELs in 29 CFR § 1910.1000 should be addressed through negotiated rulemaking initiatives.
Thank you for providing ASSE with the opportunity to submit its views for the formal rulemaking record on this important initiative. We hope to work cooperatively with the agency in Standards Improvement Project efforts in the future.
Donald S. Jones, Sr., CSP, PE