Capitol HillGlobally Harmonized System (GHS) is one of the few regulatory issues likely to be finalized during the next six months, according to Aaron K. Trippler, Director of Government Affairs for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).

In his end-of-the-year assessment of congressional activity related to occupational health and safety regulations, Trippler said that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has until January 24th to provide its recommendation on the proposal it received in late October.

"The concern with the GHS is that no one seems to know exactly what is in the final OSHA proposal," Trippler said.

He identified two concerns raised by industry: 
1) The original proposal provided manufacturers a three-year period before Safety Data Sheets (SDS) had to be updated. However, training for employees on the SDSs was to be completed within two years.
2) Another provision contains a U.S. only enhancement to the GHS - the definition and use of “unclassified hazards.”

Although the AIHA has not seen the final proposal, the group has expressed concerns with the possible removal of the TLVs from the updated hazard communication standard. Under GHS the TLVs would no longer be required to be referenced in this standard.

The AIHA has recommended that if the final proposal does remove the TLVs, they still be referenced in a non-mandatory appendix.

With regard to other regulatory issues, Trippler said OSHA's bid to lowering the existing silica exposure level through a regulatory amendment is stalled at the OMB, which has "continually delayed" action on it, despite having gathered stakeholder opinions at meetings with labor and industry.

AIHA recently sent a letter to OMB requesting the proposal be sent back to OSHA with a recommendation "one way or the other."

OSHA's proposal to add a Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Column to the OSHA 300 is likewise in a stalemate.

"Don’t look for this to come to any conclusion for some time as Republicans in Congress have expressed opposition and would likely get more involved if this issue were to move," Trippler said.

Although identied by OSHA as it's top priority, the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) "seems to have slowed down," Trippler said. A small business regulatory review is required, but has not been scheduled yet.

"And speaking of I2P2, MSHA is proceeding with its effort to put a similar program in place for mines. The agency is preparing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking. However, there are numerous stakeholders concerned that there may be workplaces covered by both MSHA and OSHA and concern about what impact separate programs may have."

Trippler said a combustible dust standard would probably not be addressed until after I2P2. "That means it is essentially done."