Upcoming regulatory activity from the Fall Agenda

Date Posted: 12/21/2020

Upcoming regulatory activity from the Fall AgendaEvery six months or so, federal agencies publish a Unified Agenda of upcoming regulatory activity. Each agency, including OSHA, provides a list of final rules expected soon, along with proposed rules and some longer-term actions where the agency is still gathering information to develop a proposed rule.

The Fall 2020 agenda was published on December 9, and the highlights from OSHA are summarized below. The only rules likely to be finalized in the next couple months relate to internal OSHA procedures, such as how the agency handles whistleblower complaints. Most other agenda items are in the proposed stage.

Proposed rules from 2020

A number of proposed rules were expected in 2020, but most never appeared in the Federal Register. Oddly enough, the new agenda lists many of the same expected dates to publish a proposal, even if those dates have passed. These items may appear in 2021, and include:

  • Update to the Hazard Communication Standard, expected 11/2020. This proposed rule would update the standard based on changes to GHS since 2012.
  • Walking Working Surfaces, expected 11/2020. This would clarify a single paragraph regarding stair rails and handrails that has caused confusion.
  • Powered Industrial Trucks, expected 11/2020. This would update the regulation to incorporate the most current ANSI standard.
     

Proposed rules for 2021

Within the realm of General Industry, OSHA has a number of proposed rules listed:

  • Drug Testing Program and Safety Incentives Rule, expected 3/2021. This would codify a guidance memo issued in October of 2018.
  • Powered Industrial Trucks, expected 3/2021. This would consider changes to locations of use, maintenance, training, and operation.
  • Lock-Out/Tag-Out Update, expected 4/2021. This would consider technology options such as computer-based controls.
  • Communication Tower Safety (7/2021) with a focus on fall protection.
  • Tree Care Standard (10/2021) since this involves hazardous work and OSHA currently has no standard for it.

Employers in the construction industry can expect some proposed changes as well:

Although OSHA does not always meet its publication deadlines, the agenda provides an outline of initiatives and priorities for the coming year. Note that all items listed are proposed, so a final rule would likely not appear for six to twelve months after a proposed rule gets published.

 

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