Lots of Rulemaking Going On

As a new calendar year approaches, there are several important items on the Department of Labor’s “to-do” list — last updated in the Spring 2022 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions — with action deadlines fast approaching.

There are two regulations where we anticipate final action very soon.

Hazard Communications. Publication of the final rule —updating OSHA’s Hazard Communications (HazCom) standard — is anticipated before the end of December 2022. Impacted employers should be prepared for stricter labeling, handling, and training requirements. This update — a multi-year endeavor — will bring OSHA’s standards in line with international HazCom standards.

Recordkeeping and Reporting Workplace Accidents. Final action is expected sometime in December 2022. The new rule will require employers in specified high-hazard industries, with at least 100 workers, to electronically file OSHA Forms 300, 301, and 300A every year. When the rule goes into effect, OSHA will have access to significantly more data and exponentially increase the employer’s recordkeeping responsibilities. Under the previous rule, employers with 20-249 employees in specific industries were required to submit Form 300A only.

Several other major regulations are scheduled to reach the proposed rule stage soon.

Tree Care. Publication of a proposed tree care standard is anticipated in December 2022. The new standard covers workers who prune, repair, maintain and remove trees and those who provide on-site support by disposing of branches and brush and using equipment like chainsaws and wood chippers.

Cranes and Derricks in Construction. Amendments and corrections to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard — published in August 2010 — are expected to be published sometime in January 2023.

Welding in Construction Confined Spaces. In February 2023, OSHA plans to publish proposed amendments to its Welding and Cutting Standard in Construction. According to OSHA, these amendments are intended to clarify any ambiguity about the definition of “confined space” as it applies to welding activities in a construction environment.

Communication Tower Safety. Publication of a proposed rule for communication towers is expected in March 2023. The rule is about ensuring the safety of workers who build and maintain our nation’s rapidly growing network of communications towers.

Lockout/Tagout Update. The long-anticipated proposed revisions to LOTO rules are scheduled for publication in March 2023. The Lockout/Tagout Update promises to address recent technological advancements in computer-based controls of hazardous energy. National consensus standards — and international “standards harmonization” — are considered.

Infectious Diseases. In May 2023, OSHA plans to publish a proposed rule to protect employees in specific settings from infectious disease hazards. In developing the new rule for infectious diseases, the agency is considering long-standing infectious disease hazards like tuberculosis and measles and new and emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and pandemic influenza. OSHA believes specific prescribed control measures can help protect employees in healthcare, emergency response, and “other occupational settings where employees can be at increased risk of exposure to potentially infectious people.”

Emergency Response. Many of OSHA’s emergency response standards are decades old and only regulate certain aspects of a comprehensive emergency response and preparedness plan. The updated standard promises to reflect the significant developments in safety and health practices that have already been adopted by the emergency response community and incorporated into industry consensus standards. A comprehensive emergency response standard proposal is due for publication sometime in May 2023.


If you have any questions about your compliance with emerging regulations — or if you’ve been caught off guard and received a citation — don’t hesitate to contact Orr & Reno for assistance.

About the Author: James Laboe

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