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Potential standards to prevent workplace violence in the health care sector and improve emergency response and preparedness are back on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s radar.
In July 2017, the two potential standards were moved off the Trump administration’s main regulatory agenda and placed on a long-term actions list, meaning the agency did not expect to have a regulatory action within the 12 months after publication of the agenda. Other potential standards also moved to the long-term actions list at that time included an infectious disease rule and tree care standards.
However, these potential standards, with the exception of the infectious disease rule, were moved back on to the regulatory agenda under the prerule stage, meaning the agency is considering taking action, according to the latest Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan released last week. The Unified Agenda listed 20 regulatory actions in the prerule, proposed rule and final rule stages.
In July 2016, OSHA started laying the groundwork for a potential regulatory standard aimed at reducing fatalities and injuries in the tree care industry, which experiences an average of 70 deaths each year.
In December 2016, the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health recommended that OSHA expeditiously pursue a formal rule-making for an emergency responder preparedness program standard — an effort that gained new momentum after the April 2013 death of 12 emergency responders in an ammonium nitrate explosion in West, Texas.
In January 2017, OSHA granted petitions by a coalition of labor unions to pursue a standard to prevent workplace violence in the health care sector, as employees in this industry are at disproportionately higher risk of violence than other industries.
A required review of the potential impact on small businesses is scheduled to begin this year for the emergency response proposal and in 2019 for the tree care and workplace violence proposals.
Also on the prerule list are potential regulations related to communication tower safety and potential revisions to the Table 1 compliance methods in OSHA’s silica standard for the construction industry.
In addition to the infectious disease potential rule, however, a standard to update regulations for process safety management and prevention of major chemical accidents remains on the long-term actions list despite several significant chemical incidents in the past year.
ATLANTA — The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's new silica rule will greatly reduce silica exposures for workers in the construction industry, and employers should start working to comply with it now, according to the agency's head.