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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez

DOL Regulations - Live Q&A Session with OSHA - Static Version

Wednesday, January 5, 2:30 p.m. ET

Please note that input received during the course of this web chat is not part of the formal rulemaking process. You can find DOL’s proposed regulations, and submit comments, by visiting www.regulations.gov.

How to Participate

  • Enter your question directly into the live chat window found on the interactive page.
  • E-mail us at webmaster@dol.gov

You can also use the interactive page to enter your questions.

2:18 Moderator: Good afternoon! The live chat with OSHA will begin at 2:30 ET, but you can submit your questions at any time. This is a text-only chat, so there is no audio or video.

2:30 Dr. David Michaels: This is Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Dr. David Michaels. Welcome to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Web Chat on the Fall 2010 Regulatory Agenda.

The OSH Act of 1970 charges OSHA with the responsibility of making sure employers provide workers with places of employment that are free from recognized hazards. One of the ways OSHA does this is by issuing protective standards and then inspecting workplaces to make sure that employers are complying.

OSHA has had a very productive year, moving forward on important standards that will protect American workers. In 2010 the Agency published final rules/interim final rules for Cranes & Derricks, two Whistleblower regulations, and completed the Hexavalent Chromium Remand Direct Final Rule as well as the Methylene Chloride Look-Back Study. We also published proposed rules for Walking and Working Surfaces and our Standards Improvement Project - Phase III, a Request for Information on Infectious Diseases, and held nine stakeholder meetings. We anticipate publishing five more final rules in the coming year.

This agenda continues to build upon the Secretary Hilda Solis’ regulatory strategy of plan, prevent, protect; and solidifies the Agency’s commitment to strengthening the worker’s voice in the workplace. Improving access to information establishes a solid foundation for making workplaces safer. In particular, OSHA is focused on improving worker awareness of the health and safety risks posed by hazardous chemicals. We are pleased to announce that in 2011 we will be publishing the final rule to revise our Hazard Communication Standard. Additionally, this agenda also reflects two new initiatives that are focused on hazards in the high risk construction industry: Backing Operations and Reinforcing and Post-Tensioned Steel Construction.

Most employers want to take the steps necessary to protect their employees. OSHA’s proposed regulatory initiative, the Injury and Illness Prevention Program proposal, will help employers to set up a process to “find and fix” workplace hazards. This approach has been embraced by thousands of employers across the country, and is very similar to standards currently in place in California and several other states.

Thank you for taking the time to participate in today’s web chat, and for your interest in the health and safety of America’s workers. The complete regulatory agenda can be found at http://www.dol.gov/regulations/. Your comments during the rulemaking process provide us with invaluable first hand knowledge and help shape the standards produced by the Agency. Today, members of the OSHA staff are here to answer your questions, and address your concerns. Now let’s begin.

2:34 Comment From NoPolitics: Why does Nail Guns show up on the Regulatory Agenda while there are so many issues that are much more hazardous to construction workers?

2:34 OSHA Staff: Thanks NoPolitics, for your question but nail guns are not on the regulatory agenda.

2:35 Comment From Chris Bryant: Are there any plans to repropose any part of the Ergonomics rule?

2:35 OSHA Staff: Thanks Chris, the answer is no.

2:35 Comment From Kyle Morrison, S+H: This past August, OSHA solicited comments for developing PEL strategies. What did you learn from these comments, and when might we see movement on the PEL front?

2:35 OSHA Staff: Kyle, thanks for your question. Yes, in June, we held a webinar to solicit nominations for substances that individuals thought were of most concern and needed to be addressed by OSHA. In addition, we held and informal stakeholder meeting to get ideas about how to address the issue of OSHA's outdated PELs. We are currently using that information to develop a list of chemicals for which OSHA can focus its attention. There are a number of approaches the agency is considering, but we have not made a final determination at this time.

2:35 Comment From Stephen Lee, BNA: The reg agenda sets forth a June, 2011 date for the SBREFA panel on I2P2. Some have said that's later than they expected. Can you explain the delay?

2:35 OSHA Staff: Thank you, Stephen Lee,
This is a very important project and it is important that the Agency get it right. While we have accomplished a lot since we announced this project in the Spring 2010 Regulatory Agenda, we have much more to do. We want to gather as much information as possible in advance of SBREFA to make the process as productive as possible.

2:37 Comment From Micshall Patrick: When will the MSD column be added to the form 300?

2:37 OSHA Staff: Thank you for your question. This regulation is currently at OMB for final review and we expect to add it to the Form 300 log starting January 2012.

2:38 Comment From Stan: When will the small business review panel process for combustible dust begin?

2:38 Comment From David: When does OSHA expect to propose combustible dust regulations? Will these regs target specific industries that have significant dust issues, or will they be applicable to all employers/employees?

2:38 OSHA Staff: Stan and David –
We do not yet have a date for final issuance. However, after adding this item last year to the Regulatory Agenda, OSHA has moved quickly and published the advanced notice of proposed rule making on October 21, 2009. The comment period closed January 19, 2010. In addition to conducting research and site visits, OSHA has held stakeholder meetings across the country to ask our stakeholders and industry experts how OSHA should proceed in developing this standard. Stakeholder meetings were held December 14, 2009 in Washington, D.C., and February 17, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. Additionally, last spring, we held OSHA’s first-ever virtual stakeholder meeting. The next step for this rule making is to initiate SBREFA in April 2011.

2:38 Comment From Tate B.: Curious about status of combustible dust proposed std.

2:38 OSHA Staff: Tate -
We do not yet have a date for final issuance. However, after adding this item last year to the Regulatory Agenda, OSHA has moved quickly and published the advanced notice of proposed rule making on October 21, 2009. The comment period closed January 19, 2010. In addition to conducting research and site visits, OSHA has held stakeholder meetings across the country to ask our stakeholders and industry experts how OSHA should proceed in developing this standard. Stakeholder meetings were held December 14, 2009 in Washington, D.C., and February 17, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. Additionally, last spring, we held OSHA’s first-ever virtual stakeholder meeting. The next step for this rule making is to initiate SBREFA in April 2011.

2:39 Comment From Tom Campbell: What is the current status of OSHA's consideration of revising its current 1910.1200 HCS standard to incorporate GHS?

2:39 Comment From Atanu: When does OSHA think GHS will officially go into effect?

2:39 OSHA Staff: Tom C and Atanu--Thanks for your questions about GHS rulemaking. OSHA completed public hearings in March 2010. A post-hearing comment period has closed and OSHA is evaluating the rulemaking record to finalize the rule. OSHA anticipates that the final rule will be published in August 2011.

2:40 Comment From NoPolitics: I see that Post Tensioning and Reinforcing Steel is on the Regulatory Agenda. This area should address all related construction activities. Is it true that it will only address issues relating to the Ironworkers?

2:40 OSHA Staff: Thanks for your question. No, we will be asking broad questions about reinforcing steel and post-tensioning hazards.

2:42 Comment From NoPolitics: The Confined Spaces for Construction proposed rule really missed it's mark and actually makes working with or near confined spaces more confusing. Will the final rule follow the same direction as the proposed rule.

2:43 OSHA Staff: No politics- Your question raises an important issue that OSHA is considering as we craft a final rule, but we cannot comment on the substance of the final rule now that the rulemaking record is closed.

2:43 Comment From Gary Barger, CSP: How will I2P2 affect companies with existing written safety programs, safety committees, and safety auditing processes?

2:43 OSHA Staff: Thank you for this good question, Gary. The agency is committed to not disrupting existing effective programs and believes that most effective programs would likely already comply with its future I2P2 requirements.

2:43 Comment From Eric Frumin: Hello. OSHA has certainly taken on quite a few important issues, many of which are long overdue for action. In addition to the ones which you are already addressing, there are also others that sorely need attention. What obstacles does OSHA face when it tries to come to grips with all those serious problems, and is there anything that can be done to eliminate those obstacles?

2:43 OSHA Staff: Eric, thank you for your question. OSHA has limited resources and we have tried to focus our regulatory activities in ways that will produce standards with the greatest impact. We recognize that we cannot have standards for all hazards. This is the reason we are moving toward requiring employers to have Injury and Illness Prevention Programs. We are also increasing our use of the general duty clause because the OSH Act makes it very clear that it is the obligation of employers to provide workplaces free of recognized hazards, whether or not there is an OSHA standard.

2:45 Comment From Peg Seminario: Which rules does OSHA plan to finalize in 2011? Which rules does OSHA plan to issue NPRMs on in 2011?

2:45 OSHA Staff: Peg, good question, in 2011 OSHA anticipates publishing final rules for Confined Spaces in Construction, General Working Conditions for Shipyards, Electric Power Transmission, Hazard Communication and Standards Improvement. We also anticipate publishing finals for several whistle-blower regulations. In addition, we estimate publishing a proposed rule for silica.

2:46 Comment From Eileen Senn: What is the timeline on rolling out the Injury and Illness Prevention Program?

2:46 OSHA Staff: Eileen – The next step in the rulemaking process for the Injury and Illness Prevention Program is the SBREFA process which is scheduled for June 2011. While the Agency is working to complete this project on an expedited schedule, at present, OSHA has not determined a specific date for publishing the Injury and Illness Prevention Program proposed rule.

2:46 Comment From David LaHoda: Concerning Infectious Disease standard: When will we see information about the scope if such a standard is promulgated. For example, would it apply across-the-board to all healthcare settings?

2:46 OSHA Staff: Thanks David,

Last spring, OSHA announced that it was expanding the scope of its rulemaking from only airborne infectious diseases to include droplet and contact infectious diseases. OSHA is interested in infectious diseases as well as whether current infections control measures are adequate to assure the prevention of occupationally-acquired infections among exposed employees. In the RFI we considered the scope of the rule and whether it would include all health care settings. We are currently analyzing the stakeholder comments we received on this issue.

2:46 Comment From Ken Ward Jr.: It's been more than four years since the Chemical Safety Board urged OSHA to promulgate a standard on combustible dust. And just last month, three more workers died in what is believed to have been a combustible dust explosion at a metals recycling plant in New Cumberland, W.Va. Given that tragedies like this continue, how can OSHA justify still moving so slowly on a combustible dust standard?

2:46 OSHA Staff: Ken, thanks for your question. Combustible dust rulemaking is a complex project that could affect a large number of industry sectors. Consequently, the agency must conduct considerable research to ensure that the resulting standard effectively protects workers and meets legal requirements. While OSHA proceeds with its research and deliberations, we continue to actively enforce relevant standards and the general duty clause to address this serious hazard. OSHA's next step in the rulemaking is to initiate its SBREFA process in April.

2:47 Comment From mike: are there current plans to revise the allowable llimits in the formaldehyde standard?

2:47 OSHA Staff: Mike, thanks for the question. We have no plans to revise the PEL for formaldehyde.

2:48 Comment From Robyn Robbins: Combustible Dust is on the reg. agenda, scheduled for SBREFA panel April, 2011. How committeed is OSHA to getting this out as a final rule?

2:48 OSHA Staff: Robyn, OSHA is very committed to publishing a rule addressing this very serious hazard. As you know, we estimate initiating a SBREFA Review in April. However, as you know, this is a complex issue and rule-making takes time to complete. We will work as expeditiously as possible.

2:49 Comment From Chris Bryant: What does OSHA believe to be its highest priority regulatory initiative?

2:49 OSHA Staff: Thanks Chris, OSHA's highest regulatory priority is the injury and illness prevention program rule (i2p2). We believe this will have the greatest impact in terms of preventing workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

2:49 Comment From RL: When is it expected that the Confined Spaces For Construction will become a final rule?

2:49 OSHA Staff: OSHA plans to publish the final rule in November 2011.

2:52 Comment From Mario: Do you use the words "rule" and "regulation" interchangeably, or are they in fact two different things?

2:52 OSHA Staff: Yes, we do often use the words interchangeably. Sorry if there’s any confusion.

2:53 Comment From NoPolitics: From my significant experience large companies have effective I2P2. Is it OSHA's intent that I2P2 will be focused toward smaller companies?

2:53 OSHA Staff: Thanks, OSHA believes that small and medium sized employers will benefit the most from the i2p2 rule, but companies of all sizes may benefit. Certainly the success of these large employers, who have successful programs, is helping to shape our proposal.

2:54 Comment From Amy: Can you talk a bit about the differences in scope to the updates to 1910.269 adn 1926.269. It seems the changes to the construction version will be more extensive. What aspects of 1910.269 are most significantly impacted by the proposed rules changes?

2:54 OSHA Staff: OSHA anticipates publishing this very important rule in May 2011. OSHA has proposed to update the existing 1910.269 standard with revised requirements on protection from electric arcs, fall protection equipment and minimum approach distances. The proposal also includes new provisions for the exchange of information between host employers and contractors. The proposed revisions to the construction standards are intended to make the construction rules the same as the corresponding general industry rules. OSHA is currently finalizing this document in preparation for publication as a final rule.

2:54 Comment From Dave Sharrow, CSM: What is the average length of time that a proposed rule takes to get through the SBREFA process?

2:54 OSHA Staff: The SBREFA process takes about 120 days to complete once the process has been initiated.

2:54 Comment From Tracy Spencer: When will the electrical amendments (1910.269 and 1926.950) be adopted?

2:54 OSHA Staff: OSHA anticipates publishing this very important rule in May 2011. OSHA has proposed to update the existing 1910.269 standard with revised requirements on protection from electric arcs, fall protection equipment and minimum approach distances. The proposal also includes new provisions for the exchange of information between host employers and contractors. The proposed revisions to the construction standards are intended to make the construction rules the same as the corresponding general industry rules. OSHA is currently finalizing this document in preparation for publication as a final rule.

2:54 Comment From Chris Bryant: Will OSHA make available a transcript of this Web chat?

2:55 Moderator: The full text of this chat will be available on this same page immediately following the end of the chat at 3:30 p.m. Another version of the chat, as text, will be available at the "static page" link at the top of this page.

2:55 Comment From Merrill: are there any followup plans on the Latino Summit

2:55 OSHA Staff: Following the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety, OSHA implemented a robust outreach strategy to collaborate with community and faith-based organizations, unions, employers and many other non-profit organizations at the local, regional, and national levels. These collaborations and alliances provide vulnerable at-risk workers with critical information about workplace hazards, OSHA rights, and prevention strategies. Vulnerable workers include young workers, minorities, older workers and workers with low literacy skills who work in low-wage and high-risk jobs with little or no access to information and resources on preventing injuries and illness. In the past seven months we have reached out to over 100 organizations, conducted scores of educational programs and summits, and provided extensive compliance assistance to vulnerable worker populations.

2:56 Comment From David LaHoda: David LaHoda Concerning the Hazard Communication standard, if the final rule is scheduled to publish August 2011 when would enforcement go into effect?

2:56 Comment From Frank Lundblad: If GHS is published Augusts when would the standard be in effect (e.g. 6 months)?

2:56 OSHA Staff: David and Frank –
OSHA has not yet determined the effective date for the GHS rule. The effective date will be announced at the time the final rule is published.

2:56 Comment From Joe: Why is OSHA considering changing the abatement method for noise?

2:56 OSHA Staff: Joe-thank you for the question. OSHA's objective is to prevent workers exposed to noise in their workplaces from losing their hearing without unnecessarily burdening their employers. OSHA is exploring ways to improve its enforcement, and has asked for comments on the proposed interpretation from our stakeholders. We will fully consider the impact on businesses and workers before determining what final action to take. It is important to note that thousands of workers continue to suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels every year. BLS has reported that more than 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent, disabling hearing loss since 2004. In 2008 alone, 22,000 hearing loss cases were reported. OSHA is sensitive to possible costs associated with improving worker protection. Before we make a final decision, we want to hear from those parties that will be affected by this change-workers who are exposed to high noise levels, businesses who may have to make changes in their workplaces and experts in noise control. Again, our objective is to prevent workers exposed to noise in their workplaces from losing their hearing without overly burdening their employers. We will take all stakeholder comments seriously and will fully consider the impact on business and workers before determining what action, if any, we will take.

2:57 Comment From Stephen Lee, BNA: Regarding the planned rule on backing vehicles, has OSHA put any thought yet into the kinds of vehicles that would be covered?

2:57 OSHA Staff: Stephen, thank you for your question. OSHA is still considering which vehicles will be discussed in the RFI.

2:57 Comment From Kim: what does SBREFA stand for?

2:57 Moderator: SBREFA = Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

2:57 Comment From Eileen Senn: It seems like there is more going on with safety hazards than health hazards. Does OSHA plan to cover all physical, biological, and chemical hazards in I2P2 as well as safety hazards?

2:57 OSHA Staff: The answer is yes, all workplace hazards.

3:00 Comment From Tricia C: What is the status on fall protection/ walking -working surfaces rule?

3:00 OSHA Staff: Thank you, Tricia. The next step for the Walking and Working Surfaces rule is to hold informal public hearings. These hearings will start on Jan. 18, 2011 here in Washington, D.C. We do not anticipate further hearings at this time. After the hearings, and a post hearing comment period, OSHA will begin work on a final rule.

3:00 Comment From Luis: DIRECTIVE NUMBER: STD 03-11-002. Written Fall protection plans. Who is the contractor of record to write that and how will it account for all subcontractors? And workers engaged in residential construction six (6) feet or more above lower levels must be protected by conventional fall protection, still. Are all parties involved in receiving citations if this is violated?

3:00 OSHA Staff: Luis--Thanks for your interest in our enforcement policy change regarding the use of fall protection in residential construction, as issued in compliance with directive STD 03-11-002, compliance guidance for residential construction. Unfortunately, this web chat is a venue intended to discuss semi-annual regulatory agenda. I believe it would be more appropriate to contact the Directorate of Construction at 202-693-2020 for your questions regarding OSHA's application of STD 03-11-002. For more publicly available information aobut this policy change, you can also reference our construction webpage at www.osha.gov

3:00 Comment From Kevin: How closely will OSHA model I2P2 after California's IIPP standard?

3:00 Comment From Stephen Hemperly: Has California's existing I2P2 been helpful in putting forth and expediting the federal OSHA I2P2 rule making?

3:00 OSHA Staff: Kevin, Steven H. –
OSHA has learned much from the 20-year California experience with their Injury and Illness prevention standard. The Agency will review, evaluate and adopt effective provisions from California and from other states that have safety and health program requirements as appropriate.

3:03 Comment From Ed: What is OSHA doing to improve the quality of whistleblower investigations?

3:03 OSHA Staff: Thanks Ed, OSHA currently has the responsibility to enforce whistleblower protections in 21 separate laws, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA has begun to address the institutional and administrative barriers that stand between whistleblowers and justice. For example, it has made a uniform policy of sharing respondents’ responses with complainants and accepting complaints in any form. And it will address other issues relating to national consistency after it has received the recommendations of the "top to bottom" review of the program currently underway as well as recommendations from GAO and OIG. OSHA’s comprehensive review will cover policy, resources, equipment, organization and work processes. The overall objective for this evaluation is to identify any weaknesses and inefficiencies in the program and improve the way OSHA conducts whistleblower investigations.

3:03 Comment From Ed: What will the PEL be in the new proposed silica rule

3:03 OSHA Staff: Ed, thank you for your question. OSHA has not made a final decision on the PEL for silica at this time. OSHA will announce the PEL at the time the proposed rule is published.

3:03 Comment From Dave G: In regards to new rules on Cranes & Derricks is it true all employees involved in rigging operations must be "qualified" and what type of certifications/training is needed to meet requirments

3:03 OSHA Staff: Dave G--Thanks for your interest in our Cranes and Derricks in Construction Final Rule. Unfortunately, this web chat is a venue intended to discuss semi-annual regulatory agenda. For more publicly available information about qualified rigger requirements, you can reference our fact sheet on our construction webpage at www.osha.gov. For more specific information, contact the Directorate of Construction at 202-693-2020.

3:03 Comment From Gary Barger, CSP: With respect to combustible dusts, does the Department have proposed limits on accumulations overhead surfaces and is the Department looking at the available technology to clean these surfaces?

3:04 OSHA Staff: The Agency is considering a variety of ways of protecting against combustible dust hazards including limiting accumulations of dust in workplaces and available technology in preventing explosions and protecting employees from the effects of explosions.

3:04 Comment From KEN: Are there any anticipated changes or updates to the Bloodborne pathogens standard, 1910.1030?

3:04 OSHA Staff: Ken,
OSHA is currently conducting a lookback review and analyzing comments received from the public in response to the Federal Register notice. OSHA will be publishing a report upon the completion of its review of the standard and will determine at that time the appropriateness of any further actions.

3:04 Comment From Atanu: Will there be guidance documents published to further explain GHS?

3:04 OSHA Staff: Atanu--Yes. OSHA has been asked to produce guidance documents to assist with this rulemaking and plans to do so.

3:05 Comment From Bill Borwegen: Both the OSHA Bloodborne Pathoens Standard and the Needlestick Prevention Act have had a remarkable impact on dramatically cutting both hepatis B cases and needlesticks among healthcare workers. However as documented in two recent studies from the State of Massachusetts and the University of Virginia, there has been an erosion of protection with many healthcare employers purchasing the cheapest and not the best safer needles and with many ORs continuing to use conventional needles when safer products are clearly available a decade after this law was passed by Congress. Is OSHA willing to launch an effort to remind employers of the requirements in this area- perhaps through both an educational effort to be followed up with a national emphasis enforcement program with a particular focus on compliance in the ORs?

3:05 OSHA Staff: That’s an interesting question and OSHA is looking at those studies.

3:06 Comment From Joan Flynn Thompson Media: When do you estimate that OSHA will have made a determination on whether it is necessary to move ahead with a proposed rule on infectious diseases for health care workers?

3:06 OSHA Staff: Joan, OSHA is currently analyzing the comments that the agency received in response to its request for information (RFI). After this analysis, we will make a determination as to how best to proceed with addressing this important hazard.

3:07 Comment From Alice: Does OSHA plan to include universal training of workers on basic occupational health and safety in its I2P2 standard?

3:07 OSHA Staff: Effective Injury and Illness prevention programs ensure that employees are trained in the hazards to which they are exposed.

3:09 Comment From Michele Marill: To what extent will the infectious diseases standard be patterned after the California aerosol transmissible diseases standard?

3:09 OSHA Staff: Michele M, while OSHA is aware of CA’s recent Airborne Transmissible Disease Standard, it has not yet determined the scope of OSHA’s rulemaking for Infectious Disease. We are currently reviewing the information received in response to the RFI in order to determine what action OSHA should take in this area.

3:09 Comment From JS: Does OSHA plan to publish more specific guidance on what it perceives an employer's obligations are with respect to ensuring that its employees understand workplace safety policies, procedures and training (i.e., via multilingual translations or otherwise?) I recall that Dr. Micheals published a letter suggesting that such obligations may exist in the current standards, but the guidance was not altogether clear in this regard.

3:10 OSHA Staff: It is very clear to us that training in languages the workers do not understand does not constitute adequate training. Responsible employers ensure that workers are trained effectively. To do that, the employees’ language and literacy level must be taken into account.

3:10 Comment From Sam Teets: Any formal rule making on gas blows used for cleaning gas lines

3:10 OSHA Staff: Sam T--We are not currently working on a gas purging standard. However, this is a very important health and safety issue for the agency and we have sent a letter to companies engaged in utility construction, warning them of the hazard and OSHA's intent to enforce the use of safe practices. OSHA will continue to use existing standards and the general duty clause where necessary. If OSHA finds violations, OSHA will strongly consider referring cases to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

3:10 Comment From Guest: Regarding diacetyl, how long do you plan for Peer Review of Health Effects and Risk Assessment process of standard setting for this important standard?

3:10 OSHA Staff: OSHA is working together with NIOSH to develop the risk assessment. We estimate initiating peer review of the health effects and risk assessment in April 2011.OSHA does not have a set period for the length of these reviews, however, they can take from 4 to 6 months to complete depending on the complexity of the analysis involved.

3:10 Comment From Amy: Do you still anticipate a May 2011 date for the final rule on the .269 updates?

3:11 OSHA Staff: Yes.

3:11 Comment From G Bowman: will the comments recieved from the infectious disease RFI be made available to the public?

3:11 OSHA Staff: G Bowman, the comments received on the RFI can be found at www.regulations.gov.

3:12 Comment From shipbuilder: When does OSHA believe the new 1915 general working conditions / LOTO standard will be finalized and go into effect?

3:12 OSHA Staff: The shipyard rule is currently being reviewed at OMB and will publish soon.

3:13 Comment From Rich: With its limited resources, why does OSHA have responsibility for whistleblower issues that involve other government programs i.e. Consumer Product Protection ?

3:13 OSHA Staff: Thanks Rich, Congress assigns the enforcement of whistleblower protections to the Secretary of Labor, who in turn delegates them to OSHA. OSHA has decades of experience investigating retaliation complaints in a variety of statutes that range from occupational safety and health to securities law. Although the laws vary significantly, investigating retaliation is generally the same across all fields.

3:14 Comment From Walt: Will revisions to 1926.950 be followed by a revision to 1926 Subpart K, particularly in regards to NFPA 70E?

3:14 OSHA Staff: A revision of OSHA’s electrical standards for general industry and construction is not currently on the Agency’s regulatory agenda. However, we are constantly evaluating the need to develop new and revised standards.

3:16 Comment From Kim: does OSHA consider adopting ACGIH exposure limits?

3:16 OSHA Staff: Kim--In order to adopt the ACGIH exposure limits, OSHA would still be required to go through the rulemaking process. It is time to try a different approach to regulating employee exposure to hazardous chemicals. Rather than using formal rulemaking, which has failed in the past, OSHA is considering programmatic approaches to updating the PELs. We are also looking at new way to proceed, and we are currently in the process of selecting 10-15 chemicals to begin targeting through our enforcement efforts.

3:17 Comment From Lamont Byrd: Texting while driving and distracted driving are issues in which the Federal Mo[...]tor Carrier Safety Administration has conducted rulemaking for commercial motor vehicles. Does OSHA plan any activities, rulemaking or otherwise to address texting while operating vehicle that are not covered by the DOT?

3:17 OSHA Staff: Lamont, thank you for your question. OSHA has launched an education campaign calling on employers to prevent work-related distracted driving with a special focus on prohibiting texting while driving. OSHA’s message to all companies whose employees drive on the job is that it is their responsibility and legal obligation to have a clear policy against texting while driving. Companies are in violation of the OSHA law if by policy or practice they require texting while driving or create incentives that encourage or condone it or they structure work so that texting is a practical necessity for workers to carry out their jobs. Please see www.osha.gov for more information on this initiative.

3:19 Comment From Mark: Can you talk a bit about the general differences the proposed construction confined space standard vs. the current general industry standard?

3:19 OSHA Staff: Thanks Mark, that is a difficult question to answer in this forum. However, we provided a table in the beginning of the Federal Register notice to the proposed rule which highlighted the major differences. You can find a link to the Federal Register notice on OSHA's website at http://s.dol.gov/CA

3:19 Comment From David Dahlstrom, CIH: Will the revised/proposed PEL for Silica ever be realized through rulemaking for both MSHA and OSHA? It has been under consideration and study forever even though the science had been justified.

3:19 OSHA Staff: David, OSHA is very close to publishing a proposed silica rule (NPRM). The NPRM for silica is currently in internal review, and is expected to be published this spring, followed by public hearings. The peer review of our draft health effects and risk assessment analyses was completed last January. The passage of a silica standard will have a tremendous impact on improving worker safety and health, and thus is a high priority for the agency. A team of some of our most experienced and senior staff members have been assigned to this project in order to expedite development of the rule. OSHA has been working very closely with MSHA on this issue and we refer you to the regulatory agenda for MSHA’s projected publication date.

3:20 Comment From Eileen Senn: Is there any discussion within OSHA of expanding the Hazard Communication Standard to all health hazards?

3:20 OSHA Staff: Thank you, Eileen, yes, as part of the proposed standard to revise OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard to align it with the GHS, OSHA also proposed to revise its existing health standards to make them consistent GHS as well.

3:21 Comment From Ray: The current OSHA 300 Log and current information required will remain the same until 2012?

3:22 OSHA Staff: Thanks Ray, the answer is yes.

3:22 Comment From Merrill: Even within "safe" industries, there are hazardous and even dangerous employers. Will OSHA continue to allow some industries to not be covered by I2P2 or recordkeeping because theiraggregate injury rates are relatively low

3:22 OSHA Staff: Merrill, thank you for the question. OSHA attempts to focus on the most dangerous work places. We are currently considering ways of setting the scope of the I2P2 rule. As the process moves forward, we look forward to comments from workers and businesses about how best to target this important standard.


3:23 Comment From Eric Frumin: In addition to whatever provisions on worker protection are covered by the I2P2 rule, what other rulemaking measures can OSHA take to reduce the climate of fear that prevents many workers from either reporting injuries or getting more involved in safety and health efforts in their own workplaces? Specifically, how can OSHA address the problem of workplace disincentives and retaliation OUTSIDE of the complaint process under Sect. 11.c, which has proven to be inadequate, for instance, in preventing the underreporting of worker injuries?

3:23 OSHA Staff: Eric--Currently, OSHA has a National Emphasis Program focusing on record-keeping. We are inspecting randomly selected employers across the country to see if their OSHA injury and illness logs are complete and accurate. We have found inaccuracies in a surprisingly large percentage of them. We are also issuing citations in cases where we find serious under-reporting. We take injury reporting very seriously because failure to recognize and report injuries leads to failure to investigate injury causes. If injuries are not investigated, it is more difficult to prevent future injuries from occurring.
We have particularly focused on programs that incentivize non-reporting of injuries. We support incentivizing abatement of hazards and other preventive activities, but we stronly discourage employers from offering prizes to workers who do not report injuries because there is evidence that these programs result in discouraging injured workers from reporting real injuries.
In addition, not giving a reward to an injured worker may be a violation of 11(c), OSHA's anti-retaliation provision.

3:24 Comment From Ed: An injury and illness prevention program for a very samll employer (less than 10) seems excessive and unnecesaary It's seems to be a program to watch compliance with other programs -- which is fine for a larger employer. Have you considered a size application for this program?

3:24 OSHA Staff: OSHA attempts to focus on the most dangerous work places. We are currently considering ways of setting the scope of the I2P2 rule. As the process moves forward, we look forward to comments from workers and employers about how best to target this important standard.

3:25 Comment From NoPolitics: The Fatal Four include falls, struck by, caught between and electrical. What regulations specifically are being developed to address these killers of construction workers?

3:25 OSHA Staff: Thank you for your question, OSHA is currently working on a final rule for electric power transmission and generation. In addition, OSHA has added a Request For Information to the regulatory agenda to deal with hazards caused by backing vehicles. While it’s not a regulation, OSHA has recently rescinded a residential fall protection directive, thereby improving fall protection for residential construction workers.

3:26 Comment From Laura Walter: Updating PELs is not included in the agenda. What kind of recent progress has OSHA made in addressing the PELs issue?

3:26 OSHA Staff: Laura, revisiting the PELs is a key priority for OSHA. A one time stakeholder meeting of leaders from labor, business and academia was held in June to discuss options for updating the PELs. A taskforce has been assembled that includes staff from the national office, the Solicitor’s office and the field offices to lead this effort. Additionally, in order to ascertain input from the public at large, a web forum was held where stakeholders were encouraged to nominate key chemicals of concern on which OSHA could focus. OSHA is now analyzing all the information we have received to determine our next steps.

3:27 Comment From Kim: Why doesn't OSHA simply adopt ACGIH TLV/STEL/Ceilings as these are updated more frequently?

3:27 OSHA Staff: Kim--Unfortunately, OSHA does not have the statutory authority to simply adopt ACGIH TLVs. While OSHA was allowed to do this in the first 2 years after OSHA was created in 1971, the agency must now go through rulemaking to set new permissible exposure limits. This process is often quite lengthy.

3:27 Comment From kevin: Will the silica proposed rule be a comprehensive substance specific rule like the others in Subpart Z?

3:27 OSHA Staff: Kevin, OSHA anticipates proposing a comprehensive standard for crystalline silica as we have done for other hazardous substances in the past.

3:28 Comment From Jessica: Will there be a follow up Latino Worker Summit in 2011?

3:28 OSHA Staff: Jessica, we have held very successful and exciting meetings all across the country focusing on health hazards facing vulnerable workers. And we will continue to do this in 2011.

3:29 Comment From G Bowman: Is there a meas to 'sign up' for email notification of OSHA requests for information/commentary?

3:29 OSHA Staff: Thanks G, you can sign up for quicktakes, our bi-monthly newsletter, on OSHA's homepage (www.osha.gov).

3:30 Dr. David Michaels: I want to thank you for your questions, concerns, and suggestions regarding the standards and guidance which are currently being developed. The agency takes all comments and suggestions very seriously and we value stakeholder involvement in the regulatory process.

3:30 :

 

 

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