OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels

Plenty of Substance in OSHA's Web Chat

Look for a final rule revising the Hazard Communication standard in August 2011 and addition of an MSDs column to the 300 log in 2012, agency officials said.

The OSHA web chat featuring Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels began on time at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and ended promptly an hour later. Michaels delivered an opening statement and a closing thank-you. Agency officials quickly answered many questions about the timing of I2P2, the musculoskeletal disorders column OSHA wants to add to the 300 recordkeeping log, progress at updating PELs, a crystalline silica rulemaking, and other issues.

Significantly, Michaels said OSHA will issue its final rule updating the Hazard Communication standard during 2011. "This agenda continues to build upon the Secretary Hilda Solis' regulatory strategy of plan, prevent, protect; and solidifies the Agency's commitment to strengthening the worker's voice in the workplace," he wrote. "Improving access to information establishes a solid foundation for making workplaces safer. In particular, OSHA is focused on improving worker awareness of the health and safety risks posed by hazardous chemicals. We are pleased to announce that in 2011 we will be publishing the final rule to revise our Hazard Communication Standard. Additionally, this agenda also reflects two new initiatives that are focused on hazards in the high risk construction industry: Backing Operations and Reinforcing and Post-Tensioned Steel Construction.

"Most employers want to take the steps necessary to protect their employees. OSHA's proposed regulatory initiative, the Injury and Illness Prevention Program proposal, will help employers to set up a process to "find and fix" workplace hazards. This approach has been embraced by thousands of employers across the country, and is very similar to standards currently in place in California and several other states. Thank you for taking the time to participate in today's web chat, and for your interest in the health and safety of America's workers. The complete regulatory agenda can be found at http://www.dol.gov/regulations/. Your comments during the rulemaking process provide us with invaluable first hand knowledge and help shape the standards produced by the Agency. Today, members of the OSHA staff are here to answer your questions, and address your concerns."

Answers to questions posed by participants indicated the MSDs column will be added to the 300 log in 2012 (if OMB allows the change to proceed) and the HazCom final rule will be published in August 2011. Another question asked when a crystalline silica standard will be issued. OSHA staff answered, "OSHA is very close to publishing a proposed silica rule (NPRM). The NPRM for silica is currently in internal review, and is expected to be published this spring, followed by public hearings. The peer review of our draft health effects and risk assessment analyses was completed last January. The passage of a silica standard will have a tremendous impact on improving worker safety and health, and thus is a high priority for the agency. A team of some of our most experienced and senior staff members have been assigned to this project in order to expedite development of the rule. OSHA has been working very closely with MSHA on this issue and we refer you to the regulatory agenda for MSHA's projected publication date."

Visit this page to watch the DOL web chats and read archived chats, including the OSHA chat. More information about the regulatory agendas is available there.

The MSHA conference call began at 10:30 a.m. EST. The Employment and Training Administration's web chat will take place at noon EST on Thursday, and the Wage and Hour Division's web chat will start at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday.

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