On May 18, 2016, the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) published its Spring 2016, or semiannual, Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. The Unified Agenda details planned and ongoing rulemaking initiatives for individual federal agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA has identified 15 substantive rulemaking initiatives in the Unified Agenda that are planned, ongoing, or likely to be finalized in the upcoming year. Some of the pre-rule phase initiatives outlined in the Agenda include a review, analysis, and potential modification of standards involving:
- Current Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) for chemical substances;
- Requirements for Lockout/Tagout and mechanical power presses operations;
- Bloodborne Pathogen Programs; and
- Noise Protection requirements in the Construction Industry.
OSHA also plans to initiate a number of Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panels to review proposed rules including:
- Communication tower fall protection rule (June, 2016); and
- Prevention of injuries caused by backing vehicles.
OSHA also intends to finalize a new rule on Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips, and Fall Prevention), which has been the subject of ongoing rulemaking activities since 1990.
Due to the sheer number of initiatives and substantive areas covered by OSHA’s rulemaking activities, which OSHA intends to address simultaneously, the regulated community may have difficulty keeping track of ongoing rulemaking initiatives or preparing adequate and timely responses. Employers will therefore need to be extremely diligent in watching the Federal Register for any proposed rules and rulemaking notices related to OSHA activities.