ARA: The impact of the elections on OSHA regulations
Michael Kennedy, ARA Public Policy Counsel This article is written in October as we wait for Election Day. The future direction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is at a political tug of war. If President Obama wins a second term, retailers should expect a more active OSHA from a regulatory perspective, as many rules impacting the agricultural sector are poised to be published in either proposed or final form after the election. And as always, employers could expect to see the same level of active OSHA enforcement.
If Gov. Romney wins the election, some of the current regulatory initiatives may be stunted or even scrapped, but some undoubtedly will be proposed or finalized. Enforcement should continue at high levels, although some of the Obama administration’s procedures and targeting programs likely would be changed. Whether you will see a “business-friendly” OSHA, is still speculative.
Although it is difficult to predict exactly how OSHA will proceed in 2013, the following are potential significant initiatives of interest to ARA members.
REGULATORY ACTIONS SET ASSAIL
During the last several years, OSHA has been hard at work on several rulemakings yet to be released, but primed to move forward—all of which could have significant consequences for employers.
Hazard Communication Final Rule
Retailers must ensure they are in full compliance with the one major final rule OSHA implemented in 2012: an update of the hazard communication standard to align it with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The GHS final rule primarily affects three aspects of the current hazard communication standard. The first and second most directly affect chemical manufacturers. The third significantly impacts any U.S. employer that uses hazardous chemicals in the workplace, including retailers. By December 2013, retailers covered by the hazard communication standard must have trained employees on the new hazard classifications, labels and safety data sheets required by the revised standard. ARA met with OSHA in October and agreed to continue to partner with them to help assist in GHS implementation.
Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP or I2P2)
OSHA’s I2P2 rule is a top regulatory priority that has been in development for almost three years. During the last several months, OSHA hinted it is ready to begin the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act process for the rule, whereby the agency would solicit input on the rule from affected small business entities. (However, OSHA has moved slowly in this process.) It is still unclear what an IIPP rule will look like because OSHA faces the challenge of creating mandatory requirements that can be applied to employers of all sizes and in all industries. It is clear that OSHA will not release the rule before the election, but retailers should stay tuned on this agency priority.