OSHA in 2013: New rules, reviews, and research

English: Logo for the United States Occupation...

English: Logo for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

C. Stebbins

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with assuring safe and healthy working conditions for Americans by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance to workers. Its responsibilities are substantial and wide-reaching; so, like most of us, OSHA has a laundry list of tasks for this new year. Here are five important excerpts from OSHA’s publicized to do list for 2013.

  • Estimate the number and frequency of work-related illnesses and injuries through the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII). OSHA hopes this survey will reveal patterns across industries and help identify and correct workplace hazards. Private sector employers are mandated to complete this study, while state and local government employers’ obligation is determined by state laws.
  • Research vehicle backover injuries and deaths. OSHA is collecting data and investigating emergent technologies to help reduce the risk of worker injuries or fatalities from vehicles that are backing up. Depending on the results, new standards to protect workers from this hazard would follow.
  • Review the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. Is the control plan for workers exposed to bloodborne pathogens and other infectious materials as effective as possible? OSHA will review and update its written plan over the course of the year, implementing new technology, like safer medical devices.
  • Issue a final rule on confined space safety in construction sites. After a decade of work on this issue, OSHA will extend its confined space standards to the construction industry in July of 2013. This is the agency’s biggest projected legislative action of the year.
  • Update signage consensus standard. This year, OSHA will update references to its national consensus standards for certain types of safety signage. Signs conforming to the current standard will be grandfathered in.

For more of OSHA’s 2013 agenda, click here.

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