3 OSHA Rules to be Updated in 2016

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles
The Fall Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan released by The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on November 19, 2015, scheduled changes to three important OSHA regulations.  The three regulations are permissible silica exposure limits, tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses, and walking-working surfaces rules.First up will be the changes to the final rule regarding permissible silica exposure limits. OSHA proposes that the final rule, which will lower the permissible limits, will be published in February 2016. Exposure to respirable crystalline silica can cause silicosis, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, and kidney disease.  Of the 2.2 million workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica, 84% are construction workers.  Most commonly exposure occurs when workers cut, crush or grind concrete, masonry, rock and tile and particulates of those materials become airborne.The proposed rule would lower exposure limits to 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8-hour day. The current limits vary based upon industry, and are based on research from the 1960s and earlier. OSHA hopes that the new limits will prevent 700 silica exposure related deaths a year.In March OSHA is planning to publish the updated Recordkeeping Rule (29 CFR 1904). The changes to the rule would require employers of 250 or more employees to submit their injury and illness records to OSHA each quarter. Additionally, employers in certain high-hazard industries with 20 or more employees would be required to submit their annual summaries to OSHA. Currently OSHA 300, 300A and 301 logs (the illness and injury logs) are kept on record at the workplace, and employers are only required to submit their summary data to OSHA if they are informed they must do so in writing. Also, OSHA must be notified of all work-related fatalities within 8 hours; and all work related inpatient hospitalizations, all amputations and all losses of an eye within 24 hours.OSHA hopes that by collecting injury and illness data in this way, researchers will have more timely access to better data, and thereby be more able to identify and reduce workplace hazards.*Updated from original blog publication:On March 25, 2016 the new silica rule was published.The third rule was withdrawn from OIRA review on 12/21/15. The walking-working surfaces rule was due to be published in April 2016. This rule has been in the works since 1990, and addresses slip, trip and fall hazards and establishes requirements for personal fall protection systems. A second proposed rule was published in 2010. Slips, trips and fall hazards are blamed for 15% of all accidental deaths. The new proposed rule would incorporate new technologies and research made available since the last update.  Reportedly an OSHA spokesperson stated “We are committed to finalizing this rule during this term,”  in an email to Safety+Health Magazine.There are currently more than 30 OSHA rules from the pre-rule through final rule stage on the Fall Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan pending review.Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net