OSHA to Submit Final Rule During Second Phase of Standards Improvement Process

January 3, 2005

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will publish a final rule in the Jan. 5, 2005, Federal Register on the second phase of its standards improvement project. The project addresses inconsistent, duplicative or outdated provisions in OSHA’s safety and health standards for general industry, maritime and construction.

“These changes will reduce the regulatory burdens on employers while maintaining the safety and health protections afforded to employees,” said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. “These burdens produce no safety and health value and once eliminated will reduce annual costs by more than $6.8 million. That’s a winning combination for us all.”

The final rule revises or eliminates medical provisions in older standards that were once considered accepted practice, but have since been deemed obsolete or unnecessary in current medical practice. For example, annual rather than semi-annual medical examinations will now be required for long-term employees exposed to inorganic arsenic, coke oven emissions, and vinyl chloride.

In addition, the final rule eliminates reporting requirements that have failed to benefit employee health. For example, employers will no longer have to notify OSHA of all workplace releases for certain specified carcinogens. In addition, while employers are still required to establish regulated work areas for vinyl chloride, inorganic arsenic, acrylonitrile, and for the 13 known occupational carcinogens, they will no longer be required to notify OSHA each time they do so.

The final rule updates chemical exposure provisions by making them consistent in terms of the frequency of monitoring and the manner of employee notification of monitoring results.

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