The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) short- and long-term regulatory agendas remain busy as we close out 2019 and enter 2020. The regulatory agenda is published twice a year and sets forth the Agency’s priorities over the upcoming 12 months. A few of the highlights are discussed below. Click here to see the full agenda.

Beginning in November 2019, OSHA started reviewing comments to its request for information on Powered Industrial Trucks. OSHA indicated that its standard relies upon American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards from 1969. The request for information sought comment on the need for changes to locations of use, maintenance, training, and operation. OSHA has also indicated it plans to issue a separate proposal to update the consensus standard for the design and construction of powered industrial trucks. For example, the current standard covers 11 types of trucks but there are now 19 types.

In May 2020, OSHA intends to release its proposed rule to amend the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard. The proposed rule will include provisions to correct references to power line voltage for direct current (DC) voltages as well as alternating current (AC) voltages; broaden the exclusion for forklifts carrying loads under the forks from "winch or hook" to a "winch and boom"; clarify an exclusion for work activities by articulating cranes; clarify the use of demarcated boundaries for work near power lines; and correct an error permitting body belts to be used as a personal fall arrest system rather than a personal fall restraint system.

In June 2020, OSHA intends to release its proposed rule on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica. OSHA’s request for information comment period on this topic recently ended in October. During that period, OSHA requested information on the effectiveness of control measures not included for the tasks and tools listed in the Agency’s Table 1, tasks and tools involving exposure to crystalline silica not listed in Table 1, and information on dust control methods in limiting exposure to crystalline silica when workers are performing these operations. OSHA will review this information in consideration of potential revisions to Table 1. Table 1 serves as a compliance option for construction contractors to achieve compliance with key provisions in the standard. Table 1 lists particular construction tasks, specified engineering controls, and respiratory protection. Contractors that follow Table 1 do not have to be in compliance with the permissible exposure limit in the standard or the exposure assessment requirements.

OSHA will be requesting information on an update to its mechanical power presses standard in July 2020. Specifically, the current standard is 40 years old and does not address technological changes and the use of hydraulic or pneumatic power presses.

Finally, OSHA plans to issue two proposed rules in November 2020. One proposed rule will relate to drug testing and safety incentives to memorialize OSHA’s memorandum position regarding post-incident drug testing or safety incentive programs. The second proposed rule will clarify requirements on personal protective equipment in construction.

While some of these initiatives may not materialize into final rules in the near term, employers are encouraged to continue to track these efforts as they might develop into significant requirements at some point in the future.