With Senate Republicans vowing to block any legislation not related to federal spending, OSHA reforms won’t get much attention any time soon – or will they?

In his monthly update, “Happenings from the Hill,” Aaron Trippler of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) said a measure that would require congressional approval of major executive branch rules before they take effect is gaining traction.

“Currently, such rules take effect unless Congress passes and the President signs a joint resolution disapproving them,” said Trippler, the AIHA’s director of government affairs. “If you recall, that is what happened back in 2001 when Congress blocked the Clinton-era ergonomics standard,” he said. Obviously this would have an impact on any OSHA regulations as Congress could delay approval for some time.”

Trippler added that his organization is keeping a close watch on the bill.

OSHA moving forward on some fronts

Despite proposed funding cuts, Trippler said that OSHA continues to move forward on several regulatory issues:

Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2)– Although the actual proposal has yet to be written, Trippler said this is the agency’s top priority. Still, “OSHA has been surprised by the amount of negative reactions to the proposal. Expect this issue to take up a lot of time and resources at the agency,” he predicted.

Crystalline Silica– OSHA still hopes to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on this issue in April. The proposed rule remains at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Combustible Dust– In the absence of an existing standard on combustible dust, OSHA has published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2009, and held stakeholder meetings. “The agency is moving toward the small business regulatory review process,” said Trippler.

MSD Column– After concerns raised about its impact on small companies, OSHA temporarily pulled its effort to add a column for work-related musculoskeletal disorders on employer injury and illness logs. The agency plans to hold several teleconferences to gather input on the proposal from small businesses.