Agenda Outlines OSHA Rulemaking Plans for Emergency Response, Beryllium
Occupational health and safety issues listed on the Department of Labor’s most recent regulatory agenda include emergency response and preparedness, workplace violence in healthcare and social assistance, and revisions to OSHA’s beryllium and crystalline silica standards. The agenda was released in October. OSHA acknowledges that current agency standards do not address the full range of hazards or concerns currently faced by emergency responders and do not reflect “major changes” in performance specifications for protective clothing and equipment. The agency is considering updating these standards with information gathered through public meetings and a request for information. The next step in the federal rulemaking process, convening a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel, is scheduled to take place this month. An OSHA standard focused on the prevention of workplace violence in healthcare and social assistance is in the pre-rule stage. A broad coalition of labor unions and National Nurses United, the largest organization of registered nurses in the U.S., separately petitioned OSHA for a standard to prevent workplace violence in healthcare. OSHA granted the petitions in January 2017 and plans to convene a SBREFA panel in March 2019. Revisions to Table 1 of OSHA’s construction standard for occupational exposure to crystalline silica remain under consideration. Table 1 matches common construction tasks with dust control methods that have been shown to be effective. In December 2018, OSHA intends to publish an RFI on the effectiveness of control measures not currently included for tasks and tools listed in Table 1. A new item on the regulatory agenda indicates OSHA’s plans to propose revisions to certain provisions in its general industry standard on occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds. According to the agenda, the planned revisions “are generally designed to clarify the standard in response to stakeholder questions or to simplify compliance, while in all cases maintaining a high degree of protection from the adverse health effects of beryllium exposure.” OSHA’s rulemaking on occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds in the construction and shipyard sectors is in the final rule stage. The agenda states that OSHA has evidence that beryllium exposure in these sectors is limited to abrasive blasting in construction, abrasive blasting in shipyards, and welding in shipyards, and that the agency has “a number of standards already specifically applicable to these operations.” OSHA is now reconsidering the need for ancillary provisions such as housekeeping and personal protective equipment in the construction and shipyards sectors, and is reviewing comments received in response to the proposal to finalize the rulemaking by June 2019. The agency intends to retain the new permissible exposure limit for beryllium of 0.2 µg/m3 averaged over eight hours. For more information, view the fall 2018 agency rule list for DOL.