OSHA’s Top Priorities for 2015

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has come out with their yearly agenda and it lists their main priorities for 2015.  One topic on the top of their agenda is the control and exposure to crystalline silica, which is an element of sand, soil, granite, and other minerals.  With constant inhalation and exposure to these dust particles your lungs can build up scar tissue that reduces your ability to take in oxygen.  Silica may cause a disease called silicosis, which there is no cure for and if severe enough it may be fatal.  OSHA has received more than 1,700 public comments and has a testimony from more than 200 stakeholders during hearings regarding this topic.  They will analyze the comments and provide feedback by June 2015.

OSHA is updating and making changes to their record keeping and reporting rules:

  • Effective January 1st, 2015 – Employers must let OSHA know within 8 hours if an employee is killed. If an employee suffers an injury and is hospitalized, suffers an amputation or a loss of an eye you have to report it within 24 hours.  Even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records have to follow OSHA’s new requirements.  They are working on an electronic form that employers can use to report, but until that is available you can report to OSHA by calling or visiting your nearest area office.
  • OSHA updated the list of industries who are exempt from regularly keeping injury and illness records. Although exempt these companies must still follow the new requirements for reporting severe injuries.

In March of 2015 OSHA is scheduled to release their final rule for confined spaces in construction.  In June they plan on releasing the final rule that will address slips, trips and fall hazards in the work place.  Also, in the rule there will be requirements for per OSHA has some proposed rules for the new year for exposure to beryllium and changes to its rule on crane and derrick operator certifications.  The goal is to have a rule that employers must follow to ensure that operators are “completely qualified” to perform the use of cranes and derricks safely on the job site.  They plan to address the type and capacity requirements for certification.  One other proposed rule is to look at three new fit-test protocols that is used to select respirators.

There are a few pre-rule actions in regards to chemical safety on the agenda.  OSHA’s comment period in which they are seeking input on effective ways to regulate exposure to chemicals will end in April.  Then in June a review panel will meet to discuss updating OSHA’s process safety management standard to prevent major chemical accidents from happening.

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