The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets guidelines for worker safety and establishes rules that employers are supposed to follow. While OSHA is understaffed and conducts far fewer inspections of unsafe workplaces than it should, the agency does establish new guidelines and regulations on a regular basis that are designed to improve working conditions.OSHA has recently announced the agency’s 2014 regulatory agenda and the Administration will be changing the rules on a number of important issues. Our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers urge employers to be aware of changing workplace safety regulations and to make the necessary adjustments so they are not considered in violation.
OSHA’s 2014 Regulatory Agenda
OSHA’s proposed regulatory schedule for 2014 involves tackling many different issues. For example, some of the things that OSHA is planning to do this year include:
- Lowering the permitted exposure limits for silica. Under the existing workplace rules addressing silica exposure limits, up to 100 micrograms per cubic meter of exposure is permitted. The new rules will cut this permissible exposure in half, down to just 50 micrograms per cubic meter. This rule has already advanced through OSHA’s regulatory process. There is currently an extended comment period ongoing before the new regulation takes effect. The extended comment period is expected to end on January 27th and a final rule will be issued later in the year.
- OSHA is expanding the combined spaces rule, which was first passed in 1993. OSHA’s change will expand the rule to apply to the construction field, which is currently not covered.
- OSHA is updating 40-year-old standards related to electrical protective equipment requirements for employees who work in the field of electrical power transmission and distribution. A change is long overdue, as 50 power line workers out of every 100,000 get hurt or injured on the job.
- OSHA is creating new fall prevention rules. These rules will change the guidelines for both personal fall protection systems and for walking work surfaces.
OSHA will also change the rules regarding when and how workplace injuries must be recorded. This new rule, and the others described above, are expected to go into effect sometime between January 2014 and June 2014. Throughout the year, OSHA also expects to propose other new rules related to:
- Certification requirements for operators of derricks and cranes.
- Beryllium exposure on the job.
- Job illness and injury prevention programs designed to lower the rates of illness or other workplace harm.
- Updating standards for face and eye protection, as the current accepted standards for face and eye safety are more comprehensive than those required by OSHA regulations.
While not every proposed rule will actually lead to a final binding regulation, OSHA’s schedule is a busy one this year and the steps taken by the government agency could perhaps help to make at least some workplaces safer as long as employers follow the new guidelines and comply with the requirements.
Workers who identify workplace safety violations at work can and should report them since OSHA cannot investigate every workplace with the regularity it should due to staffing shortages. Workers who report workplace hazards are protected from retaliation and could perhaps save lives.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney. For a free consultation call 1-866-328-4978 today.