Capitol HillCombustible dust, mine safety and silica are some of the subject of bills that are currently making their way through – or are stuck in – the legislative and regulatory pipelines.

Aaron Trippler, Government Affairs Director for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), provides a rundown in his “Happenings on the Hill:”

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) has introduced HR 691, a bill that would require OSHA to issue an interim occupational safety and health standard regarding worker exposure to combustible dust. The bill requires the issuance of an interim final standard within one year after enactment, then requires OSHA to issue a proposed rule for regulating combustible dust within 18 months of the issuance of the interim final standard.

Trippler says the outlook for the HR 691 is poor. “This bill has also been introduced several times in previous sessions and has yet to make it through the process. The bill passed the House in the last session. Going to be very difficult to see this enacted.”

Miller also reintroduced HR 1373, the Mine Safety Protection Act of 2013, which would strengthen mine safety protections.

“If previous sessions are any indication there may be an effort to attach some of the OSHA revisions to this bill,” predicts Trippler. “Either way it stands little chance of passage at this point in time.”

OSHA projects

OSHA has plans to create a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel which would peer review proposals prior to their being issued by the agency. The ETA: October of this year.

OSHA intends to use the SBREFA for its Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) by December 2013.

“That may be a little optimistic but the agency continues to push this issue,” says Trippler.

Silica still stalled

OSHA’s proposal to regulate silica exposure is into its second year of parked in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) – well past the deadline for review completion set by Executive Order.

The AIHA recently adopted a white paper addressing “Skills and Capabilities for Silica Competent Persons.”

GHS moving forward

OSHA is in the process of implementing its final rule for the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). The deadline for employers to complete training is December of this year.

“There are still some legal challenges to the final rule but OSHA says the parties are in settlement discussions and that these challenges have not prevented the agency from moving forward with implementation,” says Trippler.