OSHA regulations to watch for in 2016

It's that time of the year once again, when the calendar changes and so does everything else. OSHA is no stranger to change and the agency has some regulatory revisions planned for the coming months. There are important rule changes coming in all fields, but some of the most prominent involve the tree care industry and workplace safety and hazards, according to the OSHA Law Blog.

The list goes on
Here are some of the changes in regulation that OSHA has planned for 2016:

  • Exposure to crystalline silica – February, 2016: Exposure to crystalline silica is something OSHA has tried to approach previously without regulatory actions, but to no avail. The rules will be aimed at limiting worker's exposure, which OSHA found to be far in excess of current safety standards. The proposed rule change that will finalize in February, 2016, will cost OSHA around $664 million a year, according to the agency. This change in standards is expected to prevent 700 deaths and provide monetary benefits of $2.8 to $4.7 billion annually, OSHA reported.
  • Tracking workplace injuries and illnesses – March, 2016: One of OSHA's more significant roles is to provide employees with an avenue to report workplace injuries and illnesses. The agency felt its methods were out of date and in 2010 began the revision process. OSHA estimates the annual cost for this up-to-date renovation of the system will cost $15 million annually, but the intangible benefits it will provide will far exceed the cost. The final rules will be revealed and executed in March, 2016.
  • Updating standards based on national consensus standards for eye and face protection – March, 2016: In the 40 years since OSHA first initiated the act that allows the agency to update regulations based on national standards, regulations have gone unchanged as consensus has changed. In March, 2016, OSHA will release regulatory changes that coincide with the 2010 edition of the American National Standard, Z87.1 Eye and Face Protection.
Workplace injury reporting will be updated to reflect current technology.
Workplace injury reporting will be updated to reflect current technology.
  • Working surfaces and personal fall protection systems – April, 2016: Between 1990 and 2011, intermittent hearings were held by OSHA to listen to public comment on incorporating changes in their requirements for preventing slips, trips and falls. Technology has quickly outpaced concerns, which contributed to the long lag in regulatory change. In April, 2016, OSHA will release their final set of standards for updated technology regarding slips, trips and falls, which, according to OSHA, remains the leading cause of workplace injury.
  • Tree care standard – June, 2016: The tree care industry remains littered with hazards, the OSHA Law Blog pointed out. As far back as 2008 there were issues between the agency and the industry about rule-making, causing OSHA to provide only a hodgepodge of rules rather than completely regulate the industry. In June of 2016 OSHA will hold a stakeholder's meeting to discuss possible rule changes within the industry. While nothing is set in stone for June besides the meeting, it is likely that many of the issues mentioned with have an effect on the tree care industry.
  • Combustible dust – August, 2016: According to OSHA, combustible dust accounted for 281 incidents between 1980 and 2005, and resulted in 119 deaths and 718 injured workers. These numbers prompted a rule change in regard to combustible dust standards that were decided in stake holder's meetings that were held between 2009 to 2010. In August, 2016, OSHA will initiate the standards through the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.

There are many exciting changes occurring within OSHA in 2016, and business owners should be prepared for any new safety signs or other changes the regulatory revisions may require.

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