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OSHA Allows More Time for Comment on Improving Provisions

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OSHA announced in December it would give those interested an extra month to comment on several proposed revisions to its recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction standards as part of its Standards Improvement Project. That new cut-off date – Jan. 4 – replaces the original deadline of Dec. 5. The agency stated in a press release that the proposed rule would streamline standards “that may be confusing, outdated or unnecessary.”

The proposed revisions are based on responses to a public Request for Information issued in 2012 and recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, OSHA staff, and the Office of Management and Budget. They include the following:

1. Reporting job-related hearing loss — Codifies current enforcement policy and clarifies that a determination whether an employee's hearing loss is "work-related" must be made using specific, clear criteria, which are set out in OSHA regulations.
2. Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) — Remove the term "unexpected" to reflect OSHA's original intent and eliminate confusion regarding applicability of the standard.
3. Chest X-Ray (CXR) Requirements — Removes the requirement for periodic CXR in the standards for inorganic arsenic, coke oven emissions, and acrylonitrile.
4. X-Ray Storage — Permits storage of x-rays in digital formats.
5. Lung-function testing — Updates the lung-function testing (spirometry) requirements for the cotton dust standard to make them consistent with current medical practices and technology.
6. Feral Cats — Deletes the term "feral cats" from the definition of vermin in the Shipyard Employment standard.
7. 911 Emergency Services at Worksites — Requires the posting of location information at worksites in areas that do not have Enhanced 911 (which automatically supplies the caller's location information to the dispatcher).
8. Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) — Corrects and clarifies the construction PELs requirements to make this standard consistent with other OSHA PELs standards.
9. Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals — Replaces the entire thirty-one pages of regulatory text for the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM) Standard for construction with a cross reference to the identical general industry standard.
10. Personal Protective Equipment — Requires employers to select PPE that properly fits each employee and clarifies the construction PPE requirements to make them consistent with general industry requirements.
11. Lanyard/lifeline Break Strength — Standardizes break-strength requirements for lanyards and lifelines throughout the construction and general industry standards.
12. Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) — Updates the provisions related to traffic signs and devices, flaggers, and barricades to align with current DOT requirements. (This removes the burden on construction employers.)
13. Load Limit Postings — Exempts single family dwellings from a requirement to post maximum safe-load limits for floors in buildings under construction, reducing a burden for residential builders.
14. Excavation Hazards — Clarifies that a hazard is presumed to exist when loose rock or soil and excavated material or equipment is beside a trench.
15. MSHA Underground Construction – Diesel Engines — Updates the regulatory language to cross-reference revised Mine Safety Health Administration's (MSHA) provisions.
16. Underground Construction — Replaces outdated decompression tables used to protect employees working in pressurized underground construction sites.
17. Rollover Protective Structures — Replaces the outdated construction standard with references to the appropriate consensus standards.
18. Regulation of coke oven emissions in construction — Removes the regulation of coke oven emissions provisions from the construction standards. (Any work during operation of coke ovens is general industry work, and the standard does not fit construction work.)
19. Collection of Social Security Numbers — Comprehensively removes from general industry, construction, and maritime standards all requirements to include an employee's social security number on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, and other records in order to protect employee privacy and prevent identity fraud.

According to the agency, the proposed revisions would save employers an estimated $3.2 million per year.
Comments can be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov and then entering “OSHA-2012-0007-0031” in the search bar.

Tagged in: OSHA
Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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