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OSHA Issues Spring 2022 Regulatory Agenda

Stephanie Salmon

On June 21, the Biden administration released its Spring 2022 Unified Agenda of Regulatory Actions.  The agenda, issued twice a year, provides the status of and projected dates for all potential regulations listed in three stages: pre-rule, proposed rule, and final rule. It provides insight into the administration’s upcoming activities and priorities.

AFS has prepared the following summary of the actions of the U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) impacting U.S. metalcasters and  and has identified those rulemakings on which the association will be actively engaged and submitting comments. 

Final Rules

The agency expects to finalize two rules by the end of the year:

  • Recordkeeping/Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses: The agency proposes to amend its recordkeeping regulation to restore the requirement to electronically submit to OSHA additional injury and illness information from the OSHA Form 300 and OSHA Form 301 for establishments, including foundries, with 100 or more employees. OSHA recently extended its comment period to June 30, 2022. AFS joined onto coalition comments with over 40 other associations. A final rule is scheduled for December 2022.
  • Update to the Hazard Communication Standard: OSHA’s current Hazard Communication standard (1910.1200) is linked with the third edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, also known as GHS. In February 2021, OSHA issued a proposed rule to update the regulations to align with GHS’ seventh edition.

Proposed Rules

Most rules on the agenda are at the proposed rule stage. The major ones line up as follows:

  • October 2022: Re-open the rulemaking record for Walking Working Surfaces.
  • March 2023: OSHA to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Lockout/Tagout Update. New computer-based controls of hazardous energy conflict with current OSHA standards on lockout/tagout. In May 2019, OSHA issued a Request for Information to better understand new technology in this space.
  • May 2023: Proposed Rule on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica: Revisions to Medical Surveillance Provisions for Medical Removal Protection. In March 2015, OSHA published a final silica rule (81 FR 16286) for general industry and maritime. Neither standard included a provision for medical removal protection. Both industry and labor organizations petitioned for review of the rule. The Court concluded that OSHA failed to explain its decision to omit medical removal protections from the rule and remanded the rule for further consideration. AFS will review with its members and submit comments in 2023.

In June, OSHA planned to analyze comments on the pre-rules on Mechanical Power Presses Update and its Heat Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work settings. OSHA is just beginning to review comments from the Heat Illness Prevention pre-rule to explore rulemaking on a heat stress standard, so that rulemaking is quite a ways off from being proposed or finalized; but it remains a top priority for OSHA. To date, California, Washington, Minnesota, and the U.S. military have issued heat protections.

Long-Term Actions

Last, the agency has two items with long-term dates that are to be determined:

  • COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) Rulemaking.
  • Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements—Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Column.

OSHA explains that it did not withdraw its COVID-19 ETS from the rulemaking lineup to the extent that it serves as a proposed rule while OSHA continues to evaluate comments and the Court’s decision.

Labor’s Wage and Hour Division

The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division is expected to issue a proposal to amend the overtime regulations. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is scheduled for October 2022. The Department has held several stakeholder calls to gather information and has, more recently, been conducting regional listening sessions around the country. Many employment lawyers anticipate the agency to propose increasing the salary basis threshold, and potentially amend the duties test.  

Currently, employees who make less than $35,568 are now eligible for overtime pay under a final rule that would take effect on Jan. 1, 2020. More than 100 unions and advocacy groups have called on the DOL to raise the salary threshold for exempt workers to $73,551 per year and to $82,745 annually by 2026. 

Stay Ahead of Federal Rulemakings 

AFS regularly engages with the Department of Labor and OSHA on a wide variety of issues affecting the safety and health of metalcasters nationwide. Join AFS’ Safety Committee to stay abreast of key OSHA rulemakings and enforcement initiatives. This helps to ensure your foundry’s compliance with federal and state health and safety regulations. The Committee meets quarterly and hosts an annual Environmental, Health, and Safety Conference each October. Make plans to attend this year’s conference in Milwaukee, October 4-6, following the AFS Safety 101 Seminar which will be hosted at the same venue Oct. 2-3.