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ASA Tracking Pending OSHA Rules

On January 26th, OSHA published an enforcement memo changing long-standing policy on its instance-by-instance issuance of citations and radically altering the landscape of certain inspections.  OSHA agents now have the authority to cite certain types of violations of OSHA standards specific to certain conditions where the language of the rule supports a citation for each instance of non-compliance. These conditions include lockout/tagout, machine guarding, permit-required confined space, respiratory protection, falls, trenching, and for cases with other-than-serious violations specific to recordkeeping. Earlier this month, OSHA announced its annual adjustments to civil penalties to more than $15,600 per violation, with a maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations to more than $156,000. The enforcement memo is expected to go into effect on March 27, 2023.

In the fall 2022 OSHA Regulatory Agenda, OSHA announced plans to initiate a panel on its upcoming heat illness standard for indoor and outdoor workplaces, but it’s not likely we will be seeing heat illness move through this process until late spring/early summer. However, we will have the opportunity to work with OSHA on the development of FAQs to help address the concerns and confusion in the National Emphasis Program on heat-related hazards, similar to our work on the silica FAQs for construction in 2018.

Last week, ASA, along with the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), met with representatives from OSHA and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to express concerns over the potential expansion of the agency’s emergency temporary standard to apply to construction activity and workers at covered healthcare facilities. During the meeting, we discussed OSHA’s designation of the construction industry as “low-risk” during the pandemic, the lack of engagement between construction workers and the patient population, and more. The final rule is still under review at OIRA.