Regs Piling Up at OIRA

AIHA recently sent a letter urging release of OSHA's crystalline silica proposed rule, which the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs received in February 2011. It's now one of 23 pending rules under extended OIRA review.

A total of 164 proposed federal regulations were under review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), an OMB office that is a gatekeeper for federal agencies' rulemaking efforts, as of Nov. 18. There are numerous safety and health regulations among them, and many of the 164 have stayed in review for months: On Nov. 18, 23 of the 164 -- 14 percent -- were on extended review, according to OIRA's dashboard.

One proposed rule on extended review is OSHA's planned rule governing occupational exposures to crystalline silica -- pending at OIRA since Feb. 24, 2011. AIHA recently sent a letter urging its release and saying it is needed to protect exposed workers. (OSHA's current permissible exposure limit for general industry is based on a formula proposed by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists in 1968, and the current PEL for construction and shipyards was derived from ACGIH's 1970 Threshold Limit Value and is based on particle counting technology, now considered obsolete; OSHA says both industry and worker groups support enacting a comprehensive standard for crystalline silica that requires exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, and worker training.

EPA has the largest number of regulations pending at OIRA, with 32. HHS has 21, the Department of Labor has 14, and DOT has a dozen. DOL regulations on this list include an OSHA proposal about reinforced concrete in construction; MSHA's proposed rule to require proximity detection systems on mobile machines used in underground coal mines; the GHS proposed rule from OSHA that was sent to OIRA on Oct. 25; and a proposed rule to apply the Fair Labor Standards Act to domestic service.

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