Trump Administration Withdraws Many Regulatory Items from OSHA’s 2017 Spring Agenda

In addition to withdrawing the Volks rule, the Trump administration has decided to withdraw many rules that were on the OSHA’s 2017 spring agenda, like the Combustible Dust rule, which was already drafted. The 2017 spring regulatory agenda was released on July 20, 2017.

The Walking Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips, and Fall Prevention) rule, which has already partially gone into effect, is now in litigation for part of the rule.
Rules that have been withdrawn from review under the spring agenda include; blood borne pathogens, chemical management and permissible exposure limits, revocation of obsolete permissible exposure limits, preventing back-over injuries and fatalities, occupational exposure to styrene, noise in construction, and the clarification of employer’s continuing obligation to make and maintain accurate records of each recordable injury and illness, as well as several others.

Subpart Q was also on the list for OSHA’s spring agenda, and is now off the table. Subpart Q addresses physical safety and chemical health hazards that are associated with welding, cutting and brazing. Subpart Q relies upon and incorporates by reference outdated ANSI standards that were issued in the 1960s. OSHA had included on the spring agenda to address the likely gaps in safety standards and technology as it was written almost 60 years ago.
Another rule named the Injury and Illness Prevention Program was on the docket for this year. OSHA had plans to develop this rule that would require employers to implement an Injury and Illness Prevention program. It is organized as a feedback loop safety program, from the planning and implementing stage to evaluating and improving the program based on those evaluations. Evidence supporting the need for the rule and for its design comes from innovations in the occupational health and safety field as well as trends and data found through OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program, the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, and other such industry initiatives.
OSHA is a small government agency relative to the size and scope of its purview. That is why it relies on industry experts and safety organizations such as ANSI and NFPA to inform its standards. Stakeholder meetings are a mechanism put into place to aid the review of existing rules, and the creation of new ones. Another mechanism that OSHA uses to inform its rulemaking process is public comment. OSHA will actively seek input from the public, and in particular, industry experts in the rulemaking process.  Some of the rules that were on the agenda but are now withdrawn have not yet had stakeholder meetings, or opened public comment periods.

The reason stated for all of the withdrawals from OSHA’s spring agenda is “OSHA is withdrawing this entry from the agenda at this time due to resource constraints and other priorities.” Reasoning for withdrawals did not include any statements that any of the rules or proposed changes were unnecessary.

So, what is left on the agenda? The extremely pared down list of agenda items includes:

communication tower safety,
mechanical power presses update,
powered industrial trucks,
LOTO update,
blood lead level for medical removal,
occupational exposure to beryllium,
quantitative fit testing protocol: amendment to the final rule on respiratory protection,
crane operator qualification in construction cranes and derricks in construction,
technical corrections to 16 OSHA standards,
Puerto Rico State Plan,
improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses,
tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses, and
standards improvement project IV.

This list is much shorter than the original list that the Obama administration proposed for the spring 2017 agenda.

Of the remaining items, the standards improvement project IV (SIP-IV) is in the final rule stage. The purpose of the SIP-IV is “remove or revise duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent safety and health standards.”

You can review the full list of agenda items here.  Read the on-page directions as to how to use the Unified Agenda.  You may also call our office at (877) 399-1698 for any safety compliance concerns.