OSHA officials have been saying for months now that their standard-setting focus is unclogging the pipeline of standards that have been stuck for years. These include:
  • silica
  • beryllium>/li>
  • cranes and derricks
  • a globally harmonized system for chemical labeling
  • a standard for confined spaces in construction
  • electrical power generation in construction
Also on tap are initiatives such as managing dangerous, combustible dust and ensuring compliance with CDC infectious disease guidelines.

In the words of OSHA leaders, four items on the regulatory agenda will affect many employers and workers:

OSHA has proposed revising its recordkeeping regulation to restore the column for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD's) on the OSHA 300 Log that employers use to record workplace injuries and illnesses. The proposed rule would require employers to check the MSD column if the case is recordable under the regulation's general requirements and the case meets the definition of an MSD.

OSHA has been consistent in one message: this is not a prelude to a broader ergonomics standard. At this time, OSHA has no plans for regulatory activity. But look for a debate over how OSHA proposes to define a work-related MSD, rarely an easy classification.

OSHA is revising its hazard communication standard to make it consistent with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The new standard will include more specific requirements for hazard classification as well as standardized labels to provide consistent information on hazardous chemicals. It will also provide a standard approach to convey information on material safety data sheets with extremely minimal cost to any business, small or large. OSHA will hold hearings in March and April 2010.

OSHA is expediting efforts to update existing permissible exposure limits and make other provisions to protect workers from silica dust, which has been shown to cause lung disease, silicosis and lung cancer. The agency is working to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in July 2010.

OSHA is moving forward to protect workers from the hazards of combustible dust fire and explosion. The agency held stakeholder meetings on the future standard in December and welcomed more comments at a meeting we held in Atlanta on February 17. In the coming weeks we'll be announcing more meetings in other cities.