Alternative Specimen Testing Rule Coming by July, HHS Says

Federal agencies began posting their new semi-annual regulatory agendas in yesterday's Federal Register, and as usual there were some notable items. NIOSH said it will release an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in March 2008 that will change testing requirements and specifications for powered air-purifying respirators; it will have an NPRM out in December 2007 on SCBAs. HHS said it will issue a final action in July 2007 on the possible addition of hair, sweat, and oral fluid specimen testing to the federal drug and alcohol testing scheme. The Pentagon said it will issue in December 2007 a revised safety manual for contractors involved in ammunition and explosives operations. And EEOC said it will take final action in September 2007 to revise its regulations where needed to conform to General Dynamics Land Systems v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits age-based discrimination only against older workers.

MSHA said December 2007 is the scheduled date for release of two new regulations, both directed by the MINER Act. One will require stronger seals inside underground coal mines, and the second will require mine rescue team members to have underground coal mining experience and participate in mine rescue contests. May 2008 is the date for the lowered diesel particulate matter exposure limit to take effect. While MSHA said it will cut its asbestos permissible exposure limit in June 2008, it also said there is no date set for a rulemaking notice for a proposed rule on alcohol and drug use by miners. OSHA said it will seek comments this July for a proposed emergency response and preparedness standard, and it listed October 2007 as the date to finalize the cranes and derricks standard that has been under way for five years. OSHA also said its risk analysis on the proposed adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals will be finished in August 2007. Once again, OSHA said there is no date set for issuing a hearing conservation rule for construction.

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