What OSHA Regulations Are in the Pipeline

A list of some of the OSHA rules and regulations that are currently in the works that will have an affect on the construction industry

In the beginning of July, the Department of Labor released its semiannual update of the OSHA 2013 regulatory agenda which covers proposed new regulations and where they are in the approval process. While the time schedule of the regulations isn't set in stone, it's beneficial for contractors to see what's being considered and in what order they are supposed to be enacted.

Regulations in the agenda include those in the pre-rule, proposed rule and final rule stage. Here are some of the upcoming regulations on the agenda contractors should be aware of.

Pre-rule stage

Reinforced Concrete in Construction and Preventing Backover Injuries and Fatalities

OSHA is requesting information on employee safety risks in two areas, reinforcing operations in concrete work (construction only) and fatal backovers by vehicles and equipment (all industries).

OSHA IMIS data indicates that 33 workers died while performing work on or near post-tensioning operations or reinforcing steel between 2000 and 2009. The use of reinforced steel and post-tensioned poured in place concrete in commercial and industrial construction is expected to rise. 

Backing vehicles and equipment are common causes of struck-by injuries and can also cause caught between injuries when backing vehicles and equipment pin a worker against something else. Struck-by injuries and caught between injuries are two of the four leading causes of workplace fatalities. OSHA IMIS data indicates that, between 2005 and 2010, over 350 workers have died as a result of backing incidents. 

OHSA Safety Video: Struck-by Accidents in Construction/Vehicle Back-Over

OSHA believes that it is necessary to request information from those involved in the reinforcing concrete industry, backing operations and the general public to better understand how to prevent these incidents.

This rule has a proposed timetable of February 2014.

Proposed rule stage

Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica

The current OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for general industry is based on a formula proposed by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) in 1968. The current PEL for construction and shipyards (derived from ACGIH's 1970 Threshold Limit Value) is based on particle counting technology, which is considered obsolete.

Controlling Silica Exposures in Construction

NIOSH and ACGIH recommend 50µg/m3 and 25µg/m3 exposure limits, respectively, for respirable crystalline silica. Both industry and worker groups have recognized that a comprehensive standard for crystalline silica is needed to provide for exposure monitoring, medical surveillance and worker training.

Blog: Release of OSHA's Proposed Rule on Crystalline Silica Is Nearing

This rule has a proposed timetable of July 2013.

Injury and Illness Prevention Program

OSHA is developing a rule requiring employers to implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. It involves planning, implementing, evaluating and improving processes and activities that protect employee safety and health. This rule has a proposed timetable of January 2014.

Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

OSHA is proposing changes to its reporting system for occupational injuries and illnesses. An updated and modernized reporting system would enable a more efficient and timely collection of data and would improve the accuracy and availability of the relevant records and statistics. This proposal involves modification to 29 CFR part 1904.41 to expand OSHA's legal authority to collect and make available injury and illness information required under part 1904.This rule has a proposed timetable of July 2013.

Amendments to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard

OSHA is proposing corrections and amendments to the final standard for cranes and derricks published in August, 2010. The propsed timetable for this rule is September 2013.

  • correct references to power line voltage for direct current (DC) voltages as well as alternating current (AC) voltages
  • broadens the exclusion for forklifts carrying loads under the forks from "winch or hook" to "with a boom or jib, winch, wire rope, and hook or other means of attachment"
  • clarifies an exclusion for work activities by articulating cranes
  • provides four definitions inadvertently omitted in the final standard
  • replaces "minimum approach distance" with "minimum clearance distance" throughout to remove ambiguity
  • clarifies the use of demarcated boundaries for work near power lines
  • corrects an error permitting body belts to be used as a personal fall arrest system rather than a personal fall restraint system
  • replaces the verb "must" with "may" used in error in several provisions
  • corrects an error in a caption on standard hand signals
  • resolves an issue of "NRTL-approved" safety equipment that is required by the final standard, but is not yet available

OSHA Final Rule Broadens Exemption for Digger Derricks in Standard

Final rule stage

Confined Spaces in Construction

Pursuant to discussions with the United Steel Workers of America that led to a settlement agreement regarding the general industry standard, OSHA agreed to issue a proposed rule to protect construction workers in confined spaces. The proposed timetable for this rule is December 2013.

Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips, Trips and Fall Prevention)

In 1990, OSHA proposed a rule (55 FR 13360) addressing slip, trip and fall hazards and establishing requirements for personal fall protection systems. The Agency has been working to update these rules to reflect current technology. The proposed timetable for this rule is November 2013.

Video: Prevent Slip, Trips and Falls On Construction Sites