On December 20, 2010, OSHA released its fall regulatory agenda, which sets forth the Agency’s current rulemaking priorities.  Over the last several months OSHA has been emphasizing the need to push forward on several regulatory inititatives.  OSHA rulemaking, however, can be painstakingly slow, and OSHA’s fall regulatory agenda reflects that.

Of particular note, the issuance of a proposed rule for crystalline silica has been pushed back by the Agency until April of 2011.  OSHA has been working on this regulatory initiative since the mid-1990’s.  Prerule actions to initiate the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) process for OSHA’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule and Combustible Dust rule are now set for June and April of 2011, respectively.  These rules have been signature initiatives of OSHA over the last several months.  Health rules on beryllium and diacetyl appear to be stuck in the Agency’s peer review process.  At the same time, OSHA did not announce any major new regulatory initiatives in the fall agenda.  Two small construction rulemakings were added concerning reinforcing and post-tensioned steel construction and the prevention of equipment backing accidents.

OSHA’s regulatory agenda also may be hitting obstacles at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which must review all significant OSHA rulemakings.  OMB has extended its review of two OSHA final rules:  General Working Conditions for Shipyard Employment and Occupational Injury and Illness Reporting Requirements-Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Column.  The extended review of the latter rule has effectively prevented it from being implemented in 2011.

All stakeholders should continue to watch OSHA’s regulatory agenda over the coming months as the Agency must make significant progress on rulemakings it wishes to finalize by the end of 2012.  We will, of course, continue to keep you apprised of developments.