OSHA Regulations Update 2023
Department of Labor Announces National Emphasis Program Aimed at Reducing and Preventing Workplace Hazards in Warehouses and Distribution Centers
By Victoria Godinez
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a National Emphasis Program to prevent workplace hazards in warehouses, processing facilities distribution centers, and high-risk retail establishments on July 13, 2023.
In the past 10 years, warehousing and distribution centers have experienced tremendous growth, with more than 1.9 million people employed in the industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows injury and illness rates for these establishments are higher than in private industry overall and, in some sectors, more than twice the rate of private industry.
“Our enforcement efforts are designed to do one thing: lead to permanent change in workplace safety,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “This emphasis program allows OSHA to direct resources to establishments where evidence shows employers must be more intentional in addressing the root causes of worker injuries and align their business practices with the goal to ensure worker health and safety.”
Under this 3-year emphasis program, OSHA will conduct comprehensive safety inspections focused on hazards related to powered industrial vehicle operations, material handling and storage, walking and working surfaces, means of egress, and fire protection. The program will also include inspections of retail establishments with high injury rates with a focus on storage and loading areas; however, OSHA may expand an inspection’s scope when evidence shows that violations may exist in other areas of the establishment.
In addition, OSHA will assess heat and ergonomic hazards under the emphasis program, and health inspections may be conducted if OSHA determines these hazards are present.
Inspected establishments will be chosen from two lists. One includes establishments with industry codes covered under this emphasis program. The second consists of a limited number of retail establishments with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses resulting in days away, restricted duty, or job transfer.
State plans are required to adopt this emphasis program or establish a different program at least as effective as the federal model.
Victoria Godinez is an employee at the Department of Labor Office of Public Affairs.
Proposed Rule to Clarify Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Standard
Action seeks to align construction, general industry, and maritime standards
On July 19, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a notice of proposed rulemaking to clarify the PPE standard (https://tinyurl.com/5n7w3adf) for the construction industry.
The current standard does not state clearly that PPE must fit each affected employee properly, which OSHA’s general industry and maritime standards do. The proposed change would clarify that PPE must fit each employee properly to protect them from occupational hazards.
PPE must fit properly to provide adequate protection to employees. Improperly fitting PPE may fail to provide any protection to an employee, present additional hazards, or discourage employees from using such equipment in the workplace.
The failure of standard-sized PPE to protect physically smaller construction workers properly, as well as problems with access to properly fitting PPE, have long been safety and health concerns in the construction industry, especially for some women. The proposed rule clarifies the existing requirement (https://tinyurl.com/4msacnd3), and OSHA does not expect the change will increase employers’ costs or compliance burdens. The proposed revision would align the language in OSHA’s PPE standard for construction with standards for general industry and maritime.
“If personal protective equipment does not fit properly, an employee may be unprotected or dangerously exposed to hazards and face tragic consequences,” explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “We look forward to hearing from stakeholders on this important issue as we work together to ensure that construction workers of all genders and sizes are fitted properly with safety gear.”
Comments and hearing requests must be submitted by September 18, 2023, using the Federal eRulemaking Portal and referencing Docket No. OSHA-2019-0003.
Visit www.osha.gov/personal-protective-equipment/construction for more information.
Department of Labor Expands Submission Requirements for Injury, Illness Data
Final rule takes effect January 1, 2024, for certain employers
On July 17, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule that will require certain employers in designated high-hazard industries to electronically submit injury and illness information to OSHA that they are already required to keep.
The final rule takes effect on January 1, 2024, (https://tinyurl.com/5t5xazee) and now includes the following submission requirements:
- Establishments with 100 or more employees in certain high-hazard industries must
electronically submit information from their Form 300 – Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and Form 301 –Injury and Illness Incident Report to OSHA once a year. These submissions are in addition to submission of Form 300A – Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.
- To improve data quality, establishments are required to include their legal company name when making electronic submissions to OSHA from their injury and illness records.
OSHA will publish some of the data collected on its website to allow employers, employees, potential employees, employee representatives, current and potential customers, researchers, and the general public to use information about a company’s workplace safety and health record to make informed decisions. OSHA believes that providing public access to the data will ultimately reduce occupational injuries and illnesses.
“Congress intended for the Occupational Safety and Health Act to include reporting procedures that would provide the agency and the public with an understanding of the safety and health problems workers face, and this rule is a big step in finally realizing that objective,” explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “OSHA will use these data to intervene through strategic outreach and enforcement to reduce worker injuries and illnesses in high-hazard industries. The safety and health community will benefit from the insights this information will provide at the industry level, while workers and employers will be able to make more informed decisions about their workplace’s safety and health.”
The final rule retains the current requirements for electronic submission of information from Form 300A from establishments with 20–249 employees in certain high-hazard industries and from establishments with 250 or more employees in industries that must routinely keep OSHA injury and illness records.
The announcement follows proposed amendments announced in March 2022 to regulations for requiring specific establishments in certain high-hazard industries to electronically submit information from their Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and Injury and Illness Incident Report.
OSHA Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health Convenes in August
Committee and work group meetings will be held in person and online
OSHA will hold a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) on August 9–10, 2023, in Washington, DC. The Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, also known as the Construction Safety Act (CSA), established the committee to advise the Secretary of Labor and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health on policy matters arising under the CSA, and the setting of construction standards.
The meeting will include remarks and updates from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick, updates on the construction industry from OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, and an opportunity for the public to address the committee. ACCSH work groups will also meet.
Visit www.osha.gov/advisorycommittee/accsh for more information.