In a years-long effort to reduce the regulatory agenda, the latest semi-annual agenda from OSHA seems to be making progress, according to an assessment by the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

AIHA says many OSHA observers are beginning to question if any of the items on the calendar will ever be concluded.

Those rulemaking initiatives include:

Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica — The agency hopes to complete a peer review of health effects and risk assessment by April 2006. The outdated permissible exposure limits within the rule might be addressed.

Occupational Exposure to Beryllium — Action here dates back to 1999, when OSHA denied a petition to issue an emergency temporary standard. Since then, OSHA has been gathering information to determine the health effects of exposure to beryllium and develop a proposed rule. The agency hopes to have a small business review report completed in February 2006.

Emergency Response and Preparedness — OSHA is also collecting info to evaluate what action should be taken on numerous outdated standards that need to be consolidated and updated, but no decision has been made.

Lead in Construction — Another information gathering exercise, with OSHA's review not to be completed until September 2006.

Hazard Communication — OSHA is weighing modifying hazcom to make it consistent with the Globally Harmonized System as well as take a look at new guidelines for MSDSs. An advanced notice of proposed rulemaking would be the next step, with final action still years away.

Assigned Protection Factors — OSHA expects final action in March 2006. This would complete the 1998 respiratory protection standard and establish definitions and performance expectations and limitations for classes of respirators.

Occupational Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium — By court order, the final rule must be issued by mid-January 2006. OSHA says it will submit the rule to the Office of Management and Budget by the end of November. AIHA reports the rule is more than 1,000 pages. Look for the court deadline to be extended.

Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment — Final action on this long-awaited rulemaking has been moved to March 2006. The proposal, begun in 1999, has been opened for comments several times, the most recent being in July 2004.

Hearing Conservation Program for Construction Workers — This is categorized as a long-term action item. AIHA recently sent a letter to OSHA urging more immediate attention and moving the issue up the list of priorities. No response was received, according to AIHA.