The last few Safety At A Glance Newsletters have dealt specifically with violations that have consistently been listed in OSHA’S Top Ten Safety Violations for the previous calendar year. Many of those reported violations have involved standards created in excess of 30 years ago!
Perhaps, in order to gain a better understanding of the OSHA standards, and hopefully create a sense of the importance of these standards a brief explanation of the regulatory process may prove helpful.
The Standards-Setting Process OSHA has the authority to issue new or revised occupational safety and health standards. The OSHA standards-setting process involves many steps and provides many opportunities for public engagement. OSHA can begin standards-setting procedures on its own initiative or in response to recommendations or petitions from other parties, including: • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the research agency for occupational safety and health. (For more information, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or visit the agency’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh); • State and local governments; • Nationally recognized standards-producing organizations; • Employer or labor representatives; and • Any other interested parties.
When OSHA is considering whether to develop a new or revised standard, the Agency often publishes a Request for Information (RFI) or an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(ANPRM) in the Federal Register to obtain information and views from interested members of the public. OSHA will also frequently hold stakeholder meetings with interested parties to solicit information and opinions on how the Agency should proceed with the regulation. When OSHA publishes an RFI or ANPRM, interested parties can submit written comments at www. regulations.gov, where all information and submissions are made public.
If OSHA decides to proceed with issuing a new or revised regulation, it must first publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register and solicit public comment. The NPRM contains a proposed standard along with OSHA’s explanation of the need for the various requirements in that proposed standard.
Interested parties are invited to submit written comments through http://www.regulations.gov, and OSHA will often hold public hearings in which stakeholders can offer testimony and provide information to assist the Agency in developing a final standard.
After considering all of the information and testimony provided, OSHA develops and issues a final standard that becomes enforceable.
Each spring and fall, the Department of Labor publishes in the Federal Register a list of all regulatory projects underway. The Regulatory Agenda provides a projected schedule for these projects to inform stakeholders of the Agency’s regulatory priorities and enable interested parties to take advantage of opportunities to participate in the regulatory process. Current and past issues of the Regulatory Agenda can be accessed on OSHA’s Law and Regulations page at http://www.osha. gov/law-regs.html.
Input from Small Business The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA) gives small businesses help in understanding and complying with OSHA regulations and allows them a voice in developing new regulations. Under SBREFA, OSHA must: • Produce Small Entity Compliance Guides for some agency rules; • Be responsive to small business inquiries about complying with the Agency’s regulations; • Have a penalty reduction policy for small businesses; • Involve small businesses in developing proposed rules expected to significantly affect a large number of small entities through Small Business Advocacy Review Panels; and • Give small businesses the opportunity to challenge in court agency rules or regulations that they believe will adversely affect them. More information about OSHA standards and the standards-setting process is available on OSHA’s website at http://www.osha.gov. Standards can be viewed on OSHA’s Law and Regulations page at www