OSHA & MSHA Update Regulatory Agendas

On May 23, the Obama Administration released its spring 2014 Unified Regulatory Agenda, which includes updated timelines for the following key Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) rulemakings in which AISI is engaged. 

OSHA

Crystalline Silica (NRPM)

The proposed rule for occupational exposure to crystalline silica was published in September 2013. OSHA accepted public comments through February 2014 and conducted public hearings in March 2014. The agency is accepting post hearing comments until July 18, 2014 and has stated it would like to get a final rule in early 2015. The proposed rule lowers the current OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for general industry from 100 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) to 50 µg/m3, with an Action Level of 25 µg/m3 that would trigger monitoring requirements at workplaces. AISI submitted extensive comments on the proposed rule that highlighted its negative impacts on the steel industry, including the proposal’s prohibition of dry sweeping and compressed air in lieu of wet control methods, which creates safety hazards in the steel industry through the potential for steam explosions. AISI also appeared at the public hearing on the proposal to raise industry concerns with the proposal. There is no definitive timeline for OSHA to issue a final rule identified in the Unified Regulatory Agenda.

Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses OSHA issued a proposed rule in November 2013 to update the tracking and reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses. The agency held a public hearing on the proposal in January 2014 and accepted public comments through February 2014. The proposal would amend OSHA’s current recordkeeping regulations to require the electronic submission of injury and illness information from employers and would permit OSHA to make establishment-specific injury and illness data, as well as details about specific incidents publicly available to the general public via the internet. AISI filed public comments as part of the business community Coalition for Workplace Safety (CWS) to oppose the agency’s intention to publicize injury and illness data without context, which may lead to inaccurate and incomplete conclusions about safety levels in certain industries and companies and the potential for sensitive company- and employee-specific information to become public. The final version of the rule is now scheduled to be released in March 2015.

Chemical Standards/PEL Review (RFI) OSHA’s planned release of a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from the public to help it identify effective ways to update existing PELs to chemicals at workplaces was pushed back in the recent Unified Regulatory Agenda from a December 2013 release to a May 2014 one. The agency sent the RFI to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for interagency review on April 15, which is usually the last step before public release in the Federal Register. The action will address the belief that OSHA's existing PELs are outdated and need revising to take into account newer scientific data that indicate that significant occupational health risks exist at levels below OSHA's current PELs. During stakeholder meetings in 2010 and 2011, OSHA produced a list of 17 chemicals and substances, including manganese, which are viewed as priorities for reassessment. The agency will likely focus its attention on a smaller subset of chemicals from this list that are of greatest concern for exposure risk. AISI has previously been involved in the process to update PELs, and will work to do so again once the RFI is published.

Reporting Requirements for Workplace Injuries/Fatalities (Final Rule) This final rule was scheduled in the fall Unified Regulatory Agenda for an April 2014 publication, but has now been delayed until June 2014. The final rule was sent to OMB for interagency review on February 19, 2014. As proposed, the updated regulation would revise the reporting requirements regarding the obligations of employers to report to OSHA the occurrence of fatalities, work related injuries that require in-patient hospitalization of a single employee, and amputations. The regulations in force currently, require employers to report to OSHA within eight hours any work-related incident resulting in the death of an employee or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees. AISI commented on the proposed regulation in the spring of 2012 questioning OSHA for not providing a safety justification or benefit for lowering the number of employees from three to one for reporting injuries resulting in in-patient hospitalization.

I2P2 (SBREFA and NPRM) OSHA has downgraded its proposed Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) rule to the “long-term action” list, with no set date for releasing a proposed rule or initiating a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel, which is a prerequisite to a proposed rule. The agency previously anticipated releasing a proposed rule in September 2014. The I2P2 regulation, which has long been a top priority for OSHA leaders, could have potentially forced employers to “find and fix” all workplace hazards, as well as superseding employers’ existing health and safety plans.

Combustible Dust (SBREFA) The agency’s initial SBREFA panel for its proposed combustible dust hazard standard for general industry has been postponed in the new spring agenda from April to December 2014. This rulemaking will likely develop a national comprehensive standard that addresses combustible dust hazards based on the current National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) dust explosion standards. AISI has engaged in past stakeholder meetings in February and March 2010 and will continue to participate in the ongoing rulemaking process. There currently is no schedule for a proposed rule included in the spring Unified Regulatory Agenda.

MSHA

Crystalline Silica (NRPM) MSHA’s proposed rule for occupational exposure to crystalline silica was downgraded in the spring Unified Regulatory Agenda from an expected proposed rule in June 2014 to a “long-term action” with no definitive schedule for moving forward. MSHA officials recently stated during an industry stakeholder meeting that the agency intends to wait until OSHA completes its crystalline silica rulemaking before moving forward with proposing one for the mining industry. AISI cautioned in its comments on the OSHA proposed crystalline silica rule against the possible precedential effect that regulation would have on how MSHA proceeds on controlling occupational exposure to crystalline silica in mines.

AISI will seek members’ input and continue to engage with OSHA and MSHA on all of these rulemakings as they progress. For your reference, AISI has updated the attached 2014 OSHA Regulatory Timeline to reflect the changes in the agency’s spring 2014 agenda.