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OSHA Publishes Fall 2013 Reg Agenda

Posted in on Fri, Dec 20, 2013

From the Law Office of Adele Abrams, Esq., ASSE’s Federal Representative –

OSHA and MSHA Post Plans for Additional Regulations

Under Executive Orders in effect since 1993, two times a year, spring and fall, the federal government is supposed to publish a “unified agenda” of planned actions on regulations.   The Fall 2013 agenda was issued on November 26, 2013 (Thanksgiving week) with virtually no publicity by most federal agencies with entries in the regulatory agenda, including the Department of Labor.  The regulatory plan is available on the federal government website, http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaMain, but is no longer being published in the Federal Register, as was the case for many years.

The OSHA and MSHA sections of the fall 2013 agenda provide an updated list and timetable for regulations that the two agencies are working on.  According to the agenda, OSHA is working on 28 rulemakings, some more significant than others. The agenda lists rulemakings as being in “prerule stage”, “proposed rule stage”, and “final rule stage” based on the anticipated steps in the next 12 months.

Among the new rules that OSHA plans to finalize during 2014 is one that the  agency has worked on, off and on, for many years, “walking working surfaces and personal fall protection systems (slips, trips and fall  prevention)”.  The rulemaking would update OSHA’s current “Parts D and I” regulations (29 CFR 1910 Parts D & I).  An issue in that rulemaking is whether OSHA will include requirements regarding fall protection on mobile equipment.  OSHA has previously indicated that it would not do so without an additional opportunity for public comment.

Another rule scheduled to be finalized in 2014 is a change to OSHA’s recordkeeping and reporting requirements.  The rule would change which industry sectors are exempt from recordkeeping.  As proposed, the rule would also change the current requirement that employers report (to OSHA) any workplace fatality or event resulting in three hospitalizations, to any fatality or event resulting in a single hospitalization.  All employers with 250+ workers would have to electronically file injury/illness reports quarterly, while those between 20-249 employees would file annually if they are in high hazard industry sectors.

Among the rules listed for proposal stage in the next 12 months are two that have already been published, the OSHA rule on “respirable crystalline silica” and the proposed rule discussed above, requiring (according to OSHA’s estimates) nearly 500,000 establishments to submit injury and illness records to OSHA on a quarterly or annual basis.  Both of those proposed rules are currently in the comment period.

Also on OSHA’s “proposed rule” list are two very significant rulemakings: the “Injury and Illness Prevention Program” rule (“I2P2”) and combustible dust.   The regulatory agenda now projects that a proposed rule on injury and illness prevention programs will be issued in September, 2014, following completion of its SBREFA panel.  The next step in the combustible dust rulemaking, convening a SBREFA panel, is projected for April 2014.

Probably the most significant addition to OSHA’s regulatory agenda, from previous agendas, is a rulemaking on the Process Safety Management (PSM) standard.  OSHA intends to issue a Request for Information on a number of issues under that standard.

There are no new items on MSHA’s regulatory agenda. MSHA projects issuing two final rules, one requiring proximity detection systems in underground coal mines, and the other to reduce exposure to coal mine dust.  Amongst proposed rules, MSHA projects that it will issue a proposed rule on “respirable crystalline silica” by June, 2014, and that it will issue proposed changes to the civil penalty assessment process by the end of 2013.

The fall 2013 regulatory agenda shows that both OSHA and MSHA continue to work on significant new regulations.  If you would like any further information on the agenda or any of the specific items, please contact me.

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