Although there are still several months left in the year, don't expect many regulatory actions to be completed in 2011 -- or in 2012, for that matter.
That warning comes from AAron Trippler, Director of Government Affairs for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).
In his monthly Happenings from the Hill, Trippler notes that although OSHA and other agencies have initiated numerous actions, few have been completed.
"One of the biggest problems is that it has become very easy to stop the process by either filing a lawsuit or threatening to file a lawsuit," Trippler said. "I’m for the whole idea of public input but it has simply become much too easy to stop rulemaking. Those opposed to rulemaking should be working to find a compromise to address what is probably a serious issue instead of gloating about stopping the process in its track."
Trippler provides updates on the following issues:
Silica. "While OSHA continues to collect data on what do with the silica rulemaking issue, two others groups are looking for compromise. The National Industrial Sand Association and the Industrial Minerals Association have met with the White House in efforts to work out a compromise on the exposure level for silicosis and a silicosis standard. AIHA is reviewing the compromise offered. Seems as if there are some in industry and labor opposed to the compromise, therefore it must be pretty good. No matter what, nice to see someone offer a compromise on something!"
Recordkeeping. "OSHA has issued a request for comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on recordkeeping. The new proposed reporting requirements revised OSHA's current regulation that requires an employer to report to OSHA, within eight hours, all work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Under the revised proposal, employers would be required to report to OSHA any work-related fatalities and all in-patient hospitalizations within eight hours, and work-related amputations within 24 hours. Comments are due September 20."
Voluntary Protection Program. "OSHA has been interviewing occupational health and safety officials at various interest groups in an effort to evaluate its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Funding for this program has become a very controversial issue with OSHA saying the program should be self-funding. After pushback from various groups, the administration has backed off that pledge and funding for VPP is included in the FY 2011 budget. However, that doesn’t mean the program will continue to receive funding, what with the great debate over federal spending. Would be interested to know what OSHA really hopes to accomplish with this VPP task force."
NIOSH. "NIOSH will be holding a National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS) on October 18-20 in West Virginia. The NOIRS is the only national forum focused on the presentation of occupational injury research findings, data, and methods. Here’s hoping some Congressional staffers attend to see the importance of continued funding for NIOSH as the Institute is the only federal agency conducting research in occupational health and safety."
Targeted Inspection. 2011 Annual Inspection Plan for High-Hazard Workplaces. "OSHA has issued its annual inspection plan under the Site-Specific Targeting 2011 program. This is OSHA’s main programmed inspection plan for non-construction workplaces that have 20 or more workers. Here’s hoping your workplace is not on the list."
Classification of Carcinogens. "NIOSH is also reviewing its approach to classifying carcinogens and establishing recommended exposure limits (RELs) for occupational exposures to hazards associated with cancer. NIOSH is requesting input on these issues with the comment period ending September 22.
Diacetyl. OSHA is still in the process of developing a food flavorings rule but now has some additional research to help it out. NIOSH recently released a draft document recommending exposure limits, risk assessments, control measures, and other items related to the diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione."