We're Waiting

How satisfying it would be to sit down with a few thousand of you at 1 p.m. June 29 inside San Antonio's downtown convention center to hear the new OSHA assistant secretary explain the new cranes and derricks rule at a plenary session of ASSE's Safety 2009. I intend to be there, but one or both of the others almost certainly will not.

At this writing, congressional staffer Jordan Barab has just been chosen acting OSHA leader. Many good candidates are out there for the permanent job, and one of them could be nominated, confirmed, and winning over the ASSE crowd come June. But the long-awaited cranes and derricks final rule won't be out, I feel sure.

That became obvious from a memo signed by Robert J. Biersner, counsel for Safety Standards in the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Department of Labor Solicitor's Office, after OSHA completed a public hearing on the rule March 20. Biersner's memo told the parties they have until May 19 to supplement their comments made at the hearing and until June 18 to file comments about the hearing testimony and evidence in the record.

Celeste Monforton, MPH, DrPH, an assistant research professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and a regular poster at the popular blog The Pump Handle, on April 6 chided OSHA for adding so much time to a rulemaking that has dragged on far too long.

Some stakeholders hope Monforton herself will be the next confirmed OSHA assistant secretary; I like her thinking about this protracted rulemaking. Monforton called the two-part posthearing comment period unnecessary and unfair to the families of workers who died in crane collapses and to members of the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association who participated in the negotiated rulemaking process that created the regulation.

Her post says "it is up to OSHA leaders to clamour and make the case for fair, but swift comment periods—and to remind the public that there was already a 15-week comment period on this proposed rule . . . . Will there be that much difference in the type and quality of information submitted to OSHA after 13 weeks compared to 4 weeks or 6 weeks? I doubt it."

I recommend that you watch Docket No. OSHA-2007-0066 at the federal rulemaking site to read what's submitted.

This article originally appeared in the June 2009 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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