OSHA Issues Latest Rule in Standards Improvement Project

Originally published by: Business InsuranceMay 13, 2019

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Reducing annual lung X-ray requirements, eliminating the collection of employee Social Security numbers and removing feral cats from the list of “rodents” in shipyard sanitation standards are among the 14 revisions in a final rule issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA proposed revisions to its recordkeeping, general industry, maritime and construction standards in October 2016 to eliminate confusing, outdated and unnecessary rules. The agency predicts that the final rule will save employers an estimated $6.1 million annually, according to an OSHA news release.

In the final rule, OSHA will no longer require employers to attach employees’ Social Security numbers on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance or other records in an effort to safeguard employee privacy. The changes also updated the definition of when hearing loss is related to the workplace, removed the requirement for periodic chest X-rays for individuals working in various industries, with the exception of screening requirements for asbestosis, and will allow, but not require, the retention of digital chest X-rays for medical surveillance.

OSHA also updated airborne concentration standards, will require employers to ensure that the communication system they use to contact ambulance service is effective in the case of a lack of reliable cell service on remote jobsites, and revised standards governing the handling, storage, use and disposal of construction materials on a work site.

The final rule will also reduce the minimum breaking-strength requirement for safety belts, lifelines and lanyards from 5,400 pounds to 5,000 and require that temporary traffic barriers and lane channelization devices be crashworthy.

In the sanitation standard for shipyards, which requires employers to maintain workplaces to prevent the infestation of vermin such as “insects, birds, and other animals, such as rodents and feral cats,” OSHA removed “feral cats” from that list after receiving more than 500 comments, many noting that the shipyard workers value the cats “both for companionship and as a means of controlling rodent populations.”

OSHA declined to move forward with proposed revisions to lockout/tagout and personal protective equipment standards or proposed changes to the excavation or underground construction standards.

The rule will take effect 60 days after its official publication in the Federal Register.