his week, we received a few updates on some of the key regulations from OSHA – the dreaded agency that instills fear into business owners and employees alike. OSHA regulations often involve workplace safety and cover office equipment, personal protection, injuries and everything in-between. In our industry, it’s important to know what you have to prepare for during an inspection, but also how to protect yourselves, your employees, and your profits. Many regulations add unnecessary administrative costs, equipment purchases and training.
Each spring and fall federal agencies are expected to release a regulatory agenda that establishes rules that either further define passed legislation, or create new rules that affect most businesses. 2012 saw many of the agencies watch those deadlines come and go, and finally in late December, the Department of Labor (DOL) and others, including OSHA, started to release what has just become the 2012 regulatory agenda.
It is our goal to help you understand why you need to be paying attention to these regulations that you may have previously disregarded. Expensive fines can make or break your profits, so being aware, understanding, and communicating these changes affecting your employees and your business plan are vital.
While the government doesn’t always work very fast, there is an aggressive agenda. Below are some of the regulatory agenda items from OSHA that you should become acquainted with that appear to be a part of the Obama administration’s priorities.
• Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2)
The proposed rule would require employers to establish injury and illness prevention programs for their own workplaces. Delayed in 2011 due to lack of obtaining comments from enough small businesses, its back on the priority list. Small business panels are expected throughout 2013, with a rule expected December 2013.
Why should I care?
This rule will add a plethora of new reporting and safety measures that adds additional administration costs, training and expenses. Many in the business community are saying a proposed rule on I2P2 would put a lot of scrutiny on OSHA and the effectiveness of other programs such as Ergonomics. Setting a standard for all businesses to follow is quite the under-taking.
• Combustible Dust
This had been delayed and is now part of the 2012 (2013) agenda. It also gained momentum because of NFPA 652 – currently in the development stages. OSHA had discovered a number of cases of deaths in the workplace because of combustible dust and fire hazards and OSHA wants to take credit for doing something about it.
Why should I care?
The problem is that combustible dust is not a single hazard – it’s a product of several circumstances – and OSHA needs to take in consideration all of these circumstances, which more than likely, they will not. This is especially critical to the construction industry.
• Occupational Injury & Illness Recording & Reporting Requirements: NAICS Update & Reporting Revisions
This rule changes the requirement of how you report hospitalized employees, and other injuries including amputations, to OSHA. Right now, if three or more employees are hospitalized you have to report to OSHA. OSHA is proposing that now it’s any employee hospitalized.
Why should I care?
Never mind the logistical and administrative nightmare, but what is the timeline and when it’s not considered a work hospitalization or due to a work circumstance, the only way to report the hospitalization is through a toll-free phone call which gives no record of reporting, additional citations and more fines.
It also appears the whistleblower policy is getting some raised eyebrows and how it might affect other regulations. We at NSCA will be monitoring these regulations as they move forward and we ask for your assistance in providing comments to protect your business