Labor Department Update on Regulatory Lookback
Key Takeaway: OSHA updates progress on regulatory retrospective
analysis; plans request for information on permissible exposure limit
Potential Impact: Will improve health and safety standards while
reducing regulatory burdens, the administration says.
What's Next: RFI on PELs scheduled for August; other updates targeted
to be completed this month.
By Greg Hellman
As part of its retrospective analysis of existing regulations, the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration will issue a request for
information on updating its chemical exposure standards in August, the White
House announced in a recent update.
Executive Order 13,563, published Jan. 21 (76 Fed. Reg. 3821), gave agencies
until May 18 to come up with preliminary plans for periodic reviews of
Comments sent to the Labor Department's docket concerning OSHA included calls
to revise the agency's permissible exposure limits, reinstate its proposed
reinterpretation on noise abatement, and push forward with regulations on an
injury and illness prevention program, infectious diseases, and combustible dust
(41 OSHR 372, 4/28/11).
The agency's information request will seek ways to address occupational
exposures to chemicals, since many of the permissible exposure limits have gone
unchanged since they were adopted in 1971, the update said. In the past
two-and-a-half years OSHA has taken several steps to reconsider how to address
exposure limits, including bringing together stakeholders to discuss options,
asking the public to identify the hazardous chemicals in most urgent need of
action, and soliciting information from the National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health on a group of chemicals.
Several options have been considered already, including enforcing
employer-set limits, addressing chemical hazards through the planned injury and
illness prevention program rule, a substance-by-substance approach, control
banding, and expanded use of the general duty clause.
In addition to its PELs project, OSHA had planned to issue a direct final
rule last month to update its personal protective equipment standard for the
The agency issued a final rule in 2009 updating the standard based on an
American National Standards Institute consensus standard. However, while it was
undergoing review by the Office of Management and Budget, the group published a
new edition (41 OSHR 1099, 12/22/11).
The direct final rule will update the standard based on that edition.
In another change to its construction rules, OSHA will publish a direct final
rule in June to carve out an exemption for all work done by digger derricks in
its cranes and derricks standard (29 C.F.R. 1926 Subpart CC).
The rule is a result of a settlement between the agency and Edison Electric
Institute, which represents investor-owned electric companies. EEI argued that
equipment used by electric utilities to put up power transmission lines should
not be covered by the standard (41 OSHR 772, 9/8/11).
Finally, OSHA will issue a request for information in June and begin the
fourth phase of its Standards Improvement Project, this time focusing on
The project, which is intended to revise duplicative or unnecessary rules and
reduce regulatory burdens, could look at several issues, including: eliminating
a requirement for written certification of training in the fall protection rule
(29 C.F.R. 1926.503); amending decompression tables in the underground
construction standard (29 C.F.R. 1926.650); and bringing the fit standard for
personal protection equipment (29 C.F.R. 1926 Subpart E) in line with the
general industry standard, among other changes (41 OSHR 1094, 12/22/11).
The White House's update to the Labor Department's retrospective review plan
is available at http://tinyurl.com/887so7s.