In May 2015, OSHA released its Spring Regulatory Agenda, accessible here, reflecting new regulations that are in the pipeline for this year, and other long-term priorities for the agency. One of the key priorities for OSHA is releasing the new silica rule, which has been in the pipeline for years. Under the new rule, exposures would be limited to a new Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of fifty (50) micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air (μg/m3), averaged over an 8-hour day. In addition to silica, according to the agenda, OSHA plans to address beryllium exposure.
The final rule for confined spaces in the construction industry has been published and will become effective August 3, 2015. Additionally, OSHA is continuing to pursue a recordkeeping system that would require employers to report injuries quarterly on a public online posting website. OSHA has listed this new rule under the “final rule-making stage,” meaning that the proposed rule could be issued as soon as later this year. The rule would amend 29 CFR § 1904.41, which addresses the annual OSHA injury and illness survey for employers with ten or more employees, to add three new electronic reporting requirements. Similarly, OSHA intends to provide clarity on an employer’s continuing duty to make and maintain accurate records of each recordable injury and illness—the obligation does not expire if the employer initially fails to create the necessary records.
Other key regulatory issues in the “proposed rulemaking” stage include: amendments to the crane and derricks construction standard, an amendment to the final rule on respiratory protection to address the qualitative fit test requirements, and changes to the crane operator qualification requirements in construction. Interesting issues in the “final rule-making stage” include changes to the working surfaces and personal fall protection systems regulations to address new technology in fall protection, and updating OSHA standards regarding eye and face protection to align with national consensus standards.