Compliance

EHS standards-setting actions

October 1, 2010
KEYWORDS OSHA
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1 OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Program

This is OSHA boss Dr. David Michaels’ pet project, his number one standards priority.

OSHA is developing a rule requiring employers to implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. It involves planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving processes and activities that protect employee safety and health. Employers will be responsible for “finding and fixing” hazards, with important input from workers. OSHA has substantial data on reductions in injuries and illnesses from employers who have implemented similar effective processes.

The agency currently has voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines (54 FR 3904-3916), published in 1989.

An injury and illness prevention rule would build on these guidelines as well as lessons learned from successful approaches and best practices under OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program, Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program and similar industry and international initiatives such as American National Standards Institute/American Industrial Hygiene Association Z10 and Occupation Health and Safety Association 18001. Twelve States have similar rules.

Tracking: The agency has held a series of stakeholder meetings. Look for a proposal in 2011.

From Spring 2010 Department of Labor Regulatory Agenda
 

2 OSHA hazard communication revisions to conform with the United Nation's Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) recently released remarks in response to OSHA request for comments on the proposed rule to adapt the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

The recommendations provided by AIHA specifically focus on hazard classification, chemical labeling, Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), labeling language modifications and definitions, and the scheduling of employee training once these changes are implemented. In its comments on the proposal AIHA emphasizes its support of the following:

  • The adoption of the detailed GHS criteria and weight of evidence approach to hazard evaluation and classification;
  • The approach OSHA has taken to require the GHS precautionary statements to be on HCS labels;
  • The modification of the language required for signs and labels to bear the same hazard statements that are required for all chemicals of the same classification;
  • The immediate training of employees upon the issue of the final standard.

Tracking: The GHS rules is thought to be one of the OSHA standards closest to being finalized, perhaps late this year or early next year.
 

3 TSCA reform

The U.S. approach to chemicals policy - relying heavily on OSHA’s hazard communication standard and MSDS requirements, and EPA’s 1976 Federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) - appears to have fallen behind recent global changes led by the European Union (EU) manifested in the REACH legislation.

In reality, only about 1,000 chemicals and pollutants are presently regulated by federal statute in the U.S.

The Obama administration, in a 2009 report titled, “EPA: Essential Principles for Reform of Chemicals Management Legislation,” unveiled principles for U.S. chemicals policy reform, proposing that chemical producers be required to submit sufficient hazard, exposure, and use data for EPA to determine that chemicals meet a health-based safety standard. It is believed that these principles could influence TSCA reform.

In the best of situations, reformation at the federal and state levels might mean enhanced logical and scientifically- based data on interrelated factors affecting human health and ecosystems, with the ability to make better consumer product risk decisions; greater manufacturer ownership for the generation of product scientific data; an integrated global chemical policy; new approaches to enable action in the face of scientific uncertainty; more knowledgeable consumers; and certain ability to sell in the global marketplace.

In the worst of situations, it might mean excessively conservative additional and/or conflicting regulations superimposed on an existing EPA and OSHA regulatory architecture with confusion as to requirements and value; and tremendous difficulty in implementation simply because the leap from concept to operational functionality (absent some serious prototyping) may be a light year away.

Regardless of the outcome, we are no longer in a position to sit by the sidelines and watch the new regulatory chemical policy process unfold in the hope that it will take shape to drive needed changes in a practical mode. As consumers and stakeholders in the certain regulatory changes... government, academia, labor, industry and the general public all need to be involved, need to be vocal and need to be constructive in the shaping of future chemical policy. And that time is now!

Tracking: A mammoth undertaking. One to be monitored, but it will develop slowly. A test for EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

By Chris Laszcz-Davis, MS, CIH, REA, president, California Industrial Hygiene Council (CIHC), Principal, The Environmental Quality Organization, LLC.
 

4 OSHA's 2010 Approach to Updating PELs

“Another big issue that OSHA is addressing is updating our outdated Permissible Exposure Limits. Many of these are based on 1950s-era science that no longer applies to 21st century workplaces.

 “Thousands of new and potentially hazardous chemicals have been created in the last half-century and we haven’t kept up. We don’t have enough effective standards for employers or their workers. This has to change.

 “OSHA has not taken leadership on this issue. We need to, which is why we recently initiated an internal task force to study options for updating PELs.

 “Previous regulatory efforts to update PELs have not been successful. Individual rulemaking takes an enormous amount of time to analyze health risks and economic feasibility studies of regulatory alternatives. Even if we succeed in streamlining the rulemaking process, we’re still very far behind on the question of efficiently updating thousands of chemical PELs.

 “We must find a solution, however. Too many workers are at risk.”

Tracking: OSHA has implemented a web-based solicitation campaign for professionals to nominate chemicals most in need of updated PELs. The agency will release a high-priority target list as a result. Past legal barriers to justifying updating the PELs means this will be a long, tough slough.

OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels’ speech at the ASSE Annual Professional Development Conference, Baltimore, June 2010
 

5 OSHA Occupational Injury and Illness Recording And Reporting

OSHA issued a final rule on Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements (66 FR 5916, Jan. 19, 2001), that became effective January 1, 2002. After a regulatory review, the agency determined that two provisions of the final rule would be delayed and reconsidered; the recording of occupational hearing loss (1904.10) and the recording of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) (1904.12) (66 FR 35113, Jul. 3, 2001).

Subsequently, OSHA issued a final 1904.10 regulation setting recording criteria for occupational hearing loss (67 FR 44037, Jul. 1, 2002). Following notice and comment, OSHA published another final rule to remove the WMSD definition from the regulation and remove a separate column for identifying WMSDs from the OSHA 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illness (68 FR 38601, Jun. 30, 2003).

OSHA has reconsidered the need for a 300 Log column for WMSD, and for defining ‘‘musculoskeletal disorders‘‘ for recordkeeping purposes. The gency believes that additional data on WMSDs may help employers and workers track these injuries at individual workplaces, and that the Nation’s occupational injury and illness information may benefit from improved statistics on WMSD. Improved WMSD information might also assist the Agency in its day-to-day activities and overall safety and health policymaking.

Tracking: Final rule was supposed to be issued in July. It’s politically hot, with business groups suspecting adding WMSD recordkeeping requirements is a set-up for regulating ergonomics without an ergo standard in place.

From Spring 2010 Department of Labor Regulatory Agenda

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