OSHA Enforcement Delays Require Extra Vigilance
Regulatory reviews, challenges from employers and industry groups, and technical setbacks have delayed the enforcement deadlines of several Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules approved during the Obama administration. Chief among them are OSHA’s revised Part 1904 recordkeeping and reporting rule and silica rule.
While there continues to be regulatory uncertainty, organizations potentially impacted by these rules must remain aware of developments that could affect not only their compliance efforts but their reputations as employers.
Prepare for Reporting Under Part 1904 Recordkeeping Rule
Legal challenges to the rule and OSHA’s suspension of the requirement for employers to electronically submit injury and illness data following President Trump’s inauguration led to initial implementation delays. With the electronic reporting system not operational on time, the first phase of implementation was delayed further from July 1, 2017 until December 1, 2017.
On August 1, OSHA launched its online Injury Tracking Application (ITA), through which employers can now submit the required data from their completed 2016 OSHA Form 300A.
Given this latest development, if you are in a designated industry and you meet one of the annual employee threshold requirements, you should:
- Continue to maintain your current process of injury and illness recordkeeping and reporting.
- Prepare to submit your 300A logs online by the December 1 deadline.
- Watch for any changes to the 2018 online submission compliance deadlines for Form 300 and 301.
- Review all programs to ensure that employees are being punished for violating safety rules rather than for reporting injuries.
Weigh Options for Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule
While the compliance date for OSHA’s new silica rule for construction has been delayed from June 23, 2017 to September 23, 2017, the general industries deadline currently remains June 23, 2018. The rules for both focus on substantially lowering worker permissible exposure limits (PEL) to crystalline silica.
General industry employers are required to assess their employees’ exposure and respond as directed if trigger thresholds are reached or exceeded. Exposure assessment entails monitoring exposure and developing and implementing a written exposure control plan which contains periodic air sampling, establishment of “regulated areas,” employee education and training, work practice prohibitions and proscriptions, medical surveillance, and record retention.
Construction employers are offered two options:
- Following the general industry standard guidelines.
- Instituting the detailed exposure controls outlined in the construction standard.
Given the impending compliance date, if you are a construction industry employer you should:
- Review and/or assess your silica exposures.
- Determine which compliance strategy you will implement.
Although both the enforcement of OSHA’s revised Part 1904 recordkeeping and reporting rule and silica rule continue to face delays, best practice dictates that you continue to organize your data, consider your compliance strategies, and watch for additional guidance from OSHA. By doing so, you will be better placed to meet compliance deadlines, avoid fines, and build confidence in your organization’s approach to workplace safety.