‹ Back to Columns

OSHA Releases Semi-Annual Regulatory Agenda

Stephanie Salmon

In December 2021, the Department of Labor released its Fall 2021 regulatory agenda, which provides the status of and projected dates for all potential regulations listed in three stages: pre-rule, proposed rule, and final rule.  

The following rulemakings are of particular interest to the metalcasting industry:

  • Powered Industrial Trucks Design Standard: OSHA will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to update its powered industrial truck standard, as well as collect information to evaluate the need to update requirements related to the maintenance and use of powered industrial trucks and training of operators. The proposed rule (November 2021) is delayed.
  • Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Final Rule: The agency proposes to restore the requirement to electronically submit to OSHA information from the OSHA Form 300 and OSHA Form 301 for establishments with 250 or more employees. Under the current regulation, these establishments are only required to electronically submit information from the OSHA Form 300A. The proposed rule (December 2021) is delayed.
  • Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica: Revisions to Medical Surveillance Provisions for Medical Removal Protection: OSHA omitted medical removal protection provisions in its 2015 crystalline silica rule. Typically, medical removal protection provisions require employers to (1.) temporarily remove an employee from exposure when a written medical opinion recommends removal and (2.) maintain the employee’s status quo, including earnings, rights, and benefits during the removal period. Proposed rule: March 2022.
  • Permanent Airborne Infection Disease Standard: OSHA will consider addressing airborne infectious diseases beyond just COVID-19, including tuberculosis, varicella disease (chickenpox, shingles), and measles, as well as new and emerging infectious disease threats, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, and pandemic influenza. Whether such a standard will apply to just health care or all industries, or somewhere in between, is unknown at this point. Proposed rule: April 2022.
  • Lockout/Tagout: OSHA is expected to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to address computer-controlled lockout/tagout equipment, which aren’t configured for physical locks to be attached. Proposed rule: September 2022.

AFS will be actively involved in and submitting comments on other upcoming rules that are still in early stages of development, including:

  • Heat Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings: On October 27, 2021, OSHA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Heat Injury & Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings. Currently, OSHA does not have a specific standard governing hazardous heat conditions at workplaces. AFS submitted comments to OSHA on January 26, 2022.
  • Process Safety Management and Prevention of Major Chemical Accidents.
  • Mechanical Power Presses Update.
  • Blood Lead Level for Medical Removal.


OSHA and EPA Civil Penalties Increase for 2022

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are raising their civil penalty amounts for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and environmental statues by over 6% in 2022.  The changes are made annually to adjust for inflation. The new OSHA penalty amounts are applicable to OSHA citations issued after January 15, 2022, for violations occurring after July 15, 2021. These penalties will apply to all citations issued by OSHA beginning January 15, including for employers that currently have an open inspection with OSHA.

EPA’s 2022 penalties are effective where the penalty was assessed on or after January 12, 2022. EPA’s 2021 penalties remain effective for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, where the penalty was assessed on or after December 23, 2020, but before January 12, 2022.    

Ban the Box Hiring Law Applies to Federal Contracts

Federal contractors no longer can inquire about an applicant’s criminal history before extending a conditional job offer to work on a government contract.  The restriction took effect December 20, 2021.  

The law bans civilian and defense executive agencies from either awarding federal contracts or releasing payment to a contractor that violates the statutory requirements. Specifically, as a condition of either contract award or receiving payment on a contract, government contractors may not request a job applicant on the contract to disclose his or her criminal history information prior to  extending a conditional offer of employment.

Exceptions to the restriction exist when: (1.) consideration of the criminal history record is required by law; or (2.) the employee will have access to classified information or have sensitive law enforcement or national security duties, if hired.

At least 16 states and 22 cities currently prohibit private employers from inquiring about criminal conviction history on job applications, and approximately 37 cities and counties have laws affecting government contractors as well. Metalcasters that are federal contractors should review their applications and hiring practices to ensure they are complying with the recently enacted law.