Two Rules at Final Stage in OSHA's Latest Agenda

The two are confined spaces in construction -- to be issued in November 2011 -- and protective equipment for electrical power generating, distribution and transmission workers -- coming in September.

Hours of service rules highlighted the semiannual regulatory agendas published July 7 by various federal agencies, with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration combining its electronic on-board recorder rulemaking with its pending hours rule. It remains in the proposed rule stage, however, with no HOS action listed beyond the comments already accepted on an NPRM and the sole EOBR action analyzing comments received.

The Federal Aviation Administration listed its own flight and duty time limitations and rest requirements rulemaking as being at the final rule stage.

The various DOL agencies are holding web chats next week to discuss their agendas:

  • OSHA: Monday, July 11, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. EDT
  • Wage and Hour: Wednesday, July 13, 1 - 2 p.m. EDT
  • MSHA: Thursday, July 14, noon - 1 p.m. EDT

Visit http://www.dol.gov/regulations to participate in the chats.

OSHA's agenda listed two rulemakings as final stage: confined spaces in construction -- to be issued in November 2011 -- and protective equipment for electrical power generating, distribution and transmission workers -- coming in September 2011.

The electrical hazards rule will be significant, aiming to reduce the annual U.S. fatality rate for power line workers of about 50 deaths per 100,000 employees by updating the dated construction industry standard and amending the corresponding general industry standard to make it similar. The rulemaking also addresses fall protection in aerial lifts for work on power generation, transmission, and distribution installations.

The agency's beryllium rule, sought a decade ago by the United Steelworkers Union and the Public Citizen Health Research Group, is moving far too slowly, Public Citizen charged July 7. (The agenda shows nothing beyond an economic peer review in June 2011; Public Citizen asked OSHA to reduce the permissible exposure limit for beryllium from its current level of 2 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms. "The current standard is based on an analysis conducted more than 60 years ago; it is outdated and does not protect the health of workers," said Justin Feldman, Public Citizen's worker health and safety advocate. "The U.S. Department of Energy realized this when, in 2000, it enacted a standard of 0.2 ug/m3 in all its facilities. OSHA has yet to follow suit."

OSHA's agenda said it plans to conduct hearings in October 2011 on a proposed rule to limit occupational exposures to crystalling silica. It also said NIOSH is developing a criteria document on occupational exposure to diacetyl that also will address exposure to 2,3-pentanedione, a chemical that is structurally similar to diacetyl and has been used as a substitute for it. OSHA said it intends to rely on parts of the criteria document for the health effects analysis and quantitative risk assessment for its own diacetyl rulemaking.

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