With the Obama administration safely ensconced in Washington for the next four years we are going to see many regulatory changes proceed or be developed. One of the agencies that is most likely to see a lot of changes is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Here are some of the major regulatory changes for OHSA in 2013 with an emphasis on Hazard Communication.
Roy Maurer, an online editor/manager for SHRM, talked to several attorneys who specialize in OSHA. Here are some of the things they said are coming down the pike.
- First up is the I2P2 (lucky us another acronym), which stands for “injury and illness prevention program. It will require EVERY employer to identify and correct ALL hazards in the workplace regardless if there is a specific standard or not. This is a “catch all” program and may cause problems because in my experience “one man’s work is another man’s hazard.” They are going to try to use this to transform the agency from a prescriptive one to one that uses risk-based assessment. Watch for an outreach to small business for input.
- Injury and illness reporting changes are next. They are going to expand the amount and type of reporting that will be done and remove some of the industries from the current exemption list. According to Maurer “OSHA has proposed to transition the classification of industries from Standard Industrial Classification codes to North American Industry Classification System codes. As a result of the proposed update, tens of thousands of previously exempt employers would be required to keep logs of work-related injuries and illnesses.” That means many more of you will have to be keeping the OSHA 300 log. You had better watch for that list if you are currently exempted.
- The construction industry will be especially impacted with three changes that include updated rulemaking to comprehensively regulate crystalline silica; changes in confined spaces and walking surfaces regulations.
Hazard Communication in 2013
One regulation that has been updated and all affected industries will need to comply with by December 1, 2013 is Hazard Communication. OSHA has moved to the use of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This changes the way chemicals are identified and labeled and it requires all employers who have hazard communication programs to alter their training and retrain ALL employees by 12/1/2013.
Further information can be found at the Hazard Communication page at OSHA.
Safety is from the top down
In my experience working in an HR position responsible for safety I came to realize that safety only improves if there is a desire for it to improve which starts at the top. If management pays lip service to safety so will employees. If a manager walks past an obvious hazard and does nothing it is a safe bet employees will ignore it as well. I know for a fact that a “culture of safety” works. It also returns $$$$ to the bottomline in reduced workers’ compensation, increased productivity and reduced tension between workers and management.
So adopt that safety attitude voluntarily before OSHA makes you adopt it…. At a steep price. Oh by-the-way there are criminal penalties that are being enforced by OSHA now too. Just a warning.