What’s in OSHA’s Fall Agenda?
By: Mark Stromme
Publication: Construction Regulatory Alert
Date Posted: 02/27/2018
The following are the pertinent construction entries in the 2017 Fall Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions:
Communication Tower Safety
In the Prerule Stage
While the number of employees engaged in the communication tower industry remains small, the fatality rate is very high. Over the past 20 years, this industry has experienced an average fatality rate that greatly exceeds that of the construction industry.
Falls are the leading cause of death in tower work and OSHA has evidence that fall protection is used either improperly or inconsistently. Based on information collected from an April 2016 Request for Information, OSHA understands that employees are often hoisted to working levels on small base-mounted drum hoists. These hoists are often mounted to a truck chassis, and these may not be rated to hoist personnel.
Communication tower construction and maintenance activities are not adequately covered by current OSHA fall protection and personnel hoisting standards. OSHA plans to use information it will collect from a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel to identify effective work practices and advances in engineering technology that would best address industry safety and health concerns.
While this panel will be focused on communication towers, OSHA plans to consider inclusion of structures that have telecommunications equipment on or attached to them (e.g., buildings, rooftops, water towers, billboards, etc.).
Powered Industrial Trucks
In the Prerule Stage
Powered Industrial Trucks (e.g., fork trucks, tractors, lift trucks, motorized hand trucks) are ubiquitous in industrial (and many retail) worksites. The agency’s standard still relies upon ANSI standards from 1969.
The Industrial Truck Association has been encouraging OSHA to update and expand the OSHA standard to account for the substantial revisions to ANSI standards on powered industrial trucks over the last 45 years. The current standard covers 11 types of trucks, and there are now 19 types.
In addition, the standard itself incorporates an out-of-date consensus standard. OSHA will begin the process to develop a proposed rule updating the consensus standard referenced from the 1969 version of the American National Standard B56.1 to the 2016 version.
This project is in accordance with Executive Order 13563, which is intended to facilitate the review of existing regulations that may be outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome, and to modify, streamline, expand, or repeal them.
Amendments to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard
In the Proposed Rule Stage
OSHA is proposing corrections and amendments to the final standard for cranes and derricks published in August 2010.
The standard has a large number of provisions designed to improve crane safety and reduce worker injury and fatality.
The proposed amendments:
- Correct references to power line voltage for direct current (DC) voltages as well as alternating current (AC) voltages;
- Broadens the exclusion for forklifts carrying loads under the forks from “winch or hook” to “winch and boom;”
- Clarifies an exclusion for work activities by articulating cranes;
- Provides four definitions inadvertently omitted in the final standard;
- Replaces “minimum approach distance” with “minimum clearance distance” throughout to remove ambiguity;
- Clarifies the use of demarcated boundaries for work near power lines;
- Corrects an error permitting body belts to be used as a personal fall arrest system rather than a personal fall restraint system;
- Replaces the verb “must” with “may” used in error in several provisions;
- Corrects an error in a caption on standard hand signals; and
- Resolves an issue of “NRTL-approved” safety equipment (e.g., proximity alarms and insulating devices) that is required by the final standard, but is not yet available.
Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
In the Proposed Rule Stage
OSHA intends to issue a proposal to reconsider, revise, or remove provisions of the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule, 81 FR 29624 (May 12, 2016).
OSHA proposes to amend its recordkeeping regulation to remove the requirement to electronically submit to OSHA information from the OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) for establishments with 250 or more employees which are required to routinely keep injury and illness records.
Under the proposed rule, these establishments would be required to electronically submit only information from the OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses). In addition, OSHA seeks comment on the costs and benefits of adding the Employer Identification Number (EIN) to the data collection.
This would increase the likelihood that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) would be able to match OSHA-collected data to BLS Survey of Occupational Injury and Illness (SOII) data.
This could potentially reduce the burden on employers who are required to report injury and illness data both to OSHA (for the electronic recordkeeping requirement) and to BLS (for SOII).
The preamble to the May 2016 final rule pointed to publication of the collected data as a method to improve workplace safety and health through the rule’s requirements.
OSHA stated its intention not to publish personally identifiable information (PII) included on Forms 300 and 301; OSHA Form 300A does not contain any PII. OSHA has now determined that it cannot guarantee the non-release of PII.
If OSHA were unable to publish the collected worker injury and illness data because it cannot guarantee the non-release of PII, then the potential benefit of improved workplace safety and health through publication of the collected data would not be realized.
Quantitative Fit Testing Protocol: Amendment to the Final Rule on Respiratory Protection
In the Final Rule Stage
In January 1998, OSHA published the final Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134). In the final revised respirator standard, OSHA set up a mechanism for OSHA’s acceptance of new fit test protocols under Mandatory Appendix A. Employers, employees, and safety and health professionals use fit testing to select respirators.
Any person may submit to OSHA an application for approval of a new fit test protocol, and if the application meets certain criteria, OSHA will initiate a rulemaking to determine whether to list the new protocol as an approved fit test protocol in Appendix A.
OSHA has received a submission to consider three new quantitative fit test protocols that reduce the time required to complete the fit test while maintaining acceptable test sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value. Currently OSHA relies on fit testing methods specified in Appendix A of the final revised Respiratory Protection standard. When OSHA published the final Respiratory Protection standard in 1998, it allowed for later rulemaking on new fit test protocols. This rulemaking action will allow for the incorporation of new fit test protocols into 1910.134.
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