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OSHA Releases Final Rule for Various Standards

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

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Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule, ultimately revising 14 provisions within recordkeeping, general industry, maritime and construction standards that might otherwise be confusing, outdated or unnecessary.

The Standards Improvements Project also aims to permit better compliance by employers and reduce various costs and paperwork burdens where applicable, without reducing employee protection.

The revisions mentioned in the final rule are a response to former President Barack Obama's Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulations and Regulatory Review” and stay consistent with President Donald J. Trump's Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda.”

Construction-Related Changes

OSHA has proposed and approved an update to the consensus standard incorporated by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices 2009 Edition for signs and devices used to protect workers when in proximity of automobile traffic. The revision requires employers to use proper signs and traffic control devices at points of hazard and prohibits the misuse of these protective devices including signs, signals, markings, barricades and other devices.

Ed Brown, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule, ultimately revising 14 provisions within recordkeeping, general industry, maritime and construction standards that might otherwise be confusing, outdated or unnecessary.

A revision to the requirements for roll-over protective structures for rubber-tired self-propelled scrapers; rubber-tired front-end loaders and rubber-tired dozers; crawler tractors and crawler-type loaders, motor graders, compactors, and rubber-tired skid steer equipment to comply with current consensus standards were also made.

Additional construction-related changes include decreasing the minimum breaking-strength requirement for lifelines in the safety belts, lifelines, and lanyards. The standard has been reduced from 5,400 to 5,000 pounds. The final rule also requires that temporary traffic barriers and lane channelization devices be crashworthy.

However, OSHA has declined to revise the lockout/tagout and personal protective equipment standards or proposed changes to the excavation or underground construction standards, stating in its report, “that such a change to the PPE standard should occur in a separate rulemaking outside the limited SIP process.”

Health-, Medical- and Emergency-Related Changes

Regarding health, OSHA has removed the requirement that employers provide periodic chest X-rays to screen for lung cancer in several standards, including: inorganic arsenic, coke oven emissions and acrylonitrile. Exceptions have been made for the screening requirements for asbestosis, however.

Additionally, employers are permitted to use digital radiography and other reasonably-sized standards films for X-rays for medical surveillance. A third revision was also made to update terminology and references to the International Labour Organization guidelines included in its asbestos standards.

As part of the final rule, OSHA has also updated the definition of when hearing loss is related to the workplace and revised pulmonary function testing.

In the event of a medical emergency, OSHA has reviewed methods used for calling emergency services, choosing to update the airborne concentration standards. This will require that employers have current technologies in the case of contacting an ambulance service while in areas with unreliable cell service.

As for sanitation standards and preventing infestation, after receiving some 500 comments from the public, OSHA has removed “feral cats” from its list of vermin in regard to shipyards; “insects, birds, other animals and rodents” remain, however.

Employee Protection-Related Changes

In issuing the final rule, OSHA has removed the standard requiring employees include their social security number on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance and other records.

What Happens Now

The agency estimates that the SIP rulemakings will inspire various cost savings and paperwork reductions. Although the updates to identifying and calling emergency medical services is projected to cost construction employers an additional $32,000 a year, the reduction in required employee X-rays is estimated to save a combined cost savings of $6.1 million annually.

After proposing these changes back in October 2016, the agency will see the rule take effect 60 days after its official publication in the Federal Register.


Tagged categories: Construction; Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; NA; North America; OSHA; OSHA; PaintSquare App - Commercial; Regulations; Safety

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