OSHA has released its long-awaited Fall Regulatory Agenda.  The Regulatory Agenda lists the major rulemaking initiatives that the agency will be pursuing over the next 12 months.  The Agenda also provides a snapshot into the agency’s priorities, as we enter the second year of the administration of President Obama.

Longstanding Rulemakings Remain on the Agenda

Most of the rulemaking items that started under President Clinton or Bush remain on OSHA’s regulatory agenda.  OSHA continues to push forward with a silica rulemaking, which was initiated in the 1990s.  OSHA predicts that it will publish a proposed rule comprehensively regulating exposure to silica in the workplace in July, 2010.  Other rulemakings that continue to receive OSHA’s attention include rulemakings on diacetyl, hazard communication, combustible dust, and tree care operations.

OSHA does announce in this regulatory agenda that it is abandoning its regulatory efforts to update its explosives rule.  This rulemaking had engendered some controversy during the Bush Administration over its proposed provisions related to storage of ammunition.

New Rulemakings Added

OSHA is also adding some new regulatory actions that are sure to be controversial.  First, OSHA is revisiting the issue of the definition of work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD) and the need to identify specifically WMSDs in a separate recordkeeping column.  When OSHA developed its revised recordkeeping rule in the late 1990s, OSHA initially required employers to identify WMSDs separately on OSHA 300 logs.  This requirement, however, was abandoned by the Bush Administration in a follow-up regulatory initiative.  OSHA is now looking once again at the issue and it may reignite some of the controversy associated with past OSHA efforts related to WMSDs and ergonomics.

Second, OSHA is seeking information from the public on the need for a federal Aerosol Infectious Diseases standard.  Specifically, "OSHA is considering the need for a standard to ensure that employers establish a comprehensive infection control program and control measures to protect employees from airborne infectious disease exposures to pathogens that can cause significant disease."  California recently adopted its own aerosol transmissible disease standard and this rulemaking initiative suggests that federal OSHA is exploring the need for such a standard nationwide.

OSHA continues to be active on both regulatory and enforcement initiatives.  We will continue to keep you apprised in this space on the latest OSHA developments.