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OSHA wants to update health standards

OSHA wants comments on the second phase of its "standards improvement project," addressing provisions in its health standards for general industry, maritime and construction that are inconsistent, duplicative or outdated.

Some 40 provisions in 23 OSHA health standards will be affected.

Changes in the standards are expected to reduce regulatory burdens on employers while maintaining the safety and health protections afforded to employees. Notice of the request for comments was scheduled to be published in the Federal Register of October 31, 2002.

Medical provisions in older standards that were once considered accepted practice, but have since been deemed obsolete or unnecessary, would be revised or eliminated. For example, the proposed rule would modify the coke oven emissions and vinyl chloride standards to require annual, rather than semi-annual, medical exams for employees with long-term exposures. This would make these standards consistent with more recent regulations.

The proposed rule would also eliminate reporting requirements that have failed to benefit employee health, to serve a useful regulatory purpose, or are inconsistent with the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Finally, the proposed rule would make exposure provisions of many standards consistent in terms of monitoring frequency and employee notification of results.

Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted by December 30, 2002. To submit comments by regular mail, express delivery, hand delivery or messenger service, send three copies and attachments to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. S-778-A, Room N2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20210.

You may also fax comments (10 pages or fewer) by calling the Docket Office fax at (202) 693-1648. Include the docket number in your comments. Finally, comments may be submitted electronically, beginning 10/31/02, through the Internet at http://ecomments.osha.gov. Further information on submitting comments can be obtained by calling the Docket Office at (202) 693-2350.

Requests for a hearing may be sent to Ms. Veneta Chatmon, Office of Public Affairs, Room N3647, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20210, telephone (202) 693-1999.

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