OSHA’s 2022 Rulemaking

The year ahead will bring new OSHA rulemaking — including a revival of the Obama-era infectious disease standard.

Infectious disease in the workplace

OSHA plans to provide a draft version of an infectious disease standard in 2022. The proposed rule could require employers to protect workers from hazards like drug-resistant staph infections, tuberculosis, and severe respiratory viral infections.

Creating an infectious disease standard for healthcare workers was first proposed in 2010, revived in 2014, and then consigned to the agency’s “long-term actions” list in 2017. One crucial factor to watch as the infectious disease rulemaking process unfolds is whether or not the agency will widen the scope of the rule beyond healthcare and social service employers.

Recordkeeping changes

OSHA will be changing its recordkeeping requirements in 2022. Currently, the agency requires only Form 300A — the yearly summary of injury and illness data. In the year ahead, businesses with 250 or more employees will most likely be required to provide Forms 300 and 301, which are more detailed than Form 300A. The notice of this rule change should appear soon.

Other rulemaking to watch

Other than advancing an infectious disease standard and changing recordkeeping requirements, OSHA plans to be moving several other regulations along the path to finalization in 2022. These include a proposed rule for communication tower safety, tree care, welding in confined spaces, industrial truck design, walking-working surfaces, changes to the crystalline silica standard, and an update to the mechanical power press standard.

COVID ETS

While challenges to OSHA’s vaccination and testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) work their way through the federal court system — and while OSHA has suspended enforcement activity — affected employers are still advised to take steps to comply. It is expected that the ETS will be taking effect on January 4, 2022, anyway, while litigation continues.

Affected employers are encouraged to review OSHA’s online resources, including fact sheets and model workplace policies, and develop an implementation plan that works for their business and workforce. If the ETS survives current legal challenges, employers taking a “wait and see” approach could be caught off guard.

OSHA has extended the comment period about the ETS to January 19, 2022. Stakeholders may submit comments through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Due to the evolving dynamics surrounding the ETS, employers are advised to seek legal counsel to understand their business needs and workforce options.

A new year

As the new year begins, employers might consider stepping back and conducting a thorough review of their safety and health programs. After a year when OSHA conducted most inspections remotely, in-person inspections could be much more frequent in 2022. It’s best to be prepared.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about your safety program and policies or have received an OSHA citation for any reason.

About the Author: James Laboe

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