ARA: The impact of the elections on OSHA regulations
Sterner injury and illness reporting obligations
OSHA has proposed requiring employers to report workplace amputations to the agency within 24 hours, as well as all in-patient hospitalizations within eight hours. Existing recordkeeping rules require employers to report in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees to OSHA within eight hours. Any workplace fatality would continue to be reportable as well. With this proposal, OSHA is following the actions of many states that have adopted more stringent reporting requirements for amputations and in-patient hospitalizations. If President Obama wins a second term, ARA should expect this rule to be finalized and docked in the near term.
Outside of the regulatory arena, OSHA remains busy with new initiatives aimed at improving compliance in the areas of heat illness and falls.
In 2012, OSHA launched a nationwide outreach campaign to raise awareness among workers and employers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather by creating a webpage (www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness ) devoted exclusively to work-related heat illness. While OSHA does not have a standard that deals directly with heat stress, it could utilize the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to cite employers for failing to take adequate steps to protect employees from heat illness. Employers should review their policies and practices to ensure they have plans in place to deal with heat stress at their worksites.
Similarly, OSHA recently launched a nationwide campaign to prevent falls. OSHA is keen to look at retailers that load and unload rail. On its website, OSHA provides educational materials on how to prevent falls, train employees and plan jobs safely. Fall hazards are also a major focus of enforcement in the construction industry. It is incumbent upon construction employers to ensure full compliance with OSHA’s standards related to fall protection.
ARA assumes that no matter who wins the election, enforcement will continue to be a priority for OSHA. The agricultural industry is, and will remain, under the agency’s enforcement microscope.
For more information, contact Michael Kennedy at Michael@aradc.org.