OSHA's downsized list of standards-setting priorities, pared of long-standing controversies such as ergonomics and indoor air quality, still contains some hot issues: tuberculosis, beryllium, crystalline silica, and confined spaces and hearing protection in construction.

One intriguing possibility is the revival of the old safety and health program standard, now called "Injury and Illness Prevention." First step will be to bring in small businesses to hear what they think of the idea.

But other than minor actions like a revised rule on exit routes, set to be released in final form this fall, there is not much short-term activity. Small business review panels are being held for several possible rules. Calls for comments are going out for others.

Action on the controversial occupational exposure to tuberculosis standard, which was close to being completed several years ago, is "yet to be determined."

OSHA is even undecided what to do next about a standard as minor as the "pay for PPE" rule, which was considered a slam dunk final rule candidate several years ago.

Here is OSHA's most recent plan for standards-setting:

Exit Routes (Means of Egress) (29 CFR 1910.34 - .38)

  • Drafting final rule to update and revise standard.
  • Final rule to be published in Federal Register (FR) by 09/00/02.

Walking/Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips and Fall Prevention) (29 CFR 1910, Subparts D & I)

  • Notice of Proposed Rule Making published 04/10/90.
  • OSHA drafting new NPRM.
  • NPRM to be published in FR by 12/00/02.

Confined Spaces in Construction (Preventing Suffocation/Explosions in Confined Spaces) (29 CFR 1926.36)

  • Drafting NPRM.
  • Initiate work for a small business review panel by 08/00/02.

Assigned Protection Factors: Amendments to Final Rule on Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134)

  • Drafting NPRM.
  • OSHA to publish NPRM on APFs or initiate small business panel review process by 11/00/02.

Hearing Loss Prevention in Construction Workers (29 CFR1926.52)

  • Pre-rule; drafting Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making.
  • OSHA to publish ANPRM by 06/00/02.

Occupational Exposure to Beryllium (29 CFR 1910)

  • OSHA was previously at the drafting NPRM stage, but has determined that more information is needed and is now at pre-rule stage.
  • OSHA to publish Request for Information by 09/00/02.

Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica (29 CFR 1910, 1926, 1915, 1917, 1918)

  • Pre-rule stage.
  • Convene small business review panel or initiate consensus-based process by 10/00/02.

Occupational Exposure to Tuberculosis (29 CFR 1910.1035)

  • Proposed rule.
  • Next step to be determined by 10/00/02.

Accreditation of Training Programs for Hazardous Waste Operations (1910.121)

  • NPRM issued 01/26/90. Record reopened 06/92.
  • Next action undetermined according to 05/13/02 regulatory agenda.

Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment (29 CFR 1910 and 1926)

  • NPRM published 03/31/99. Public comment period closed 07/23/99. Public hearing held 08/10/99.
  • Next action to be determined by 10/00/02.

Injury and Illness Prevention (formerly Safety and Health Programs for General Industry and Maritime)

  • OSHA is "currently evaluating the appropriate scope and form as well as the hazards the rule will address, and is considering a number of regulatory and non-regulatory alternatives," according to the regulatory agenda.
  • Initiate small business review process 12/00/02.