As part of the Standards Improvement Project, OSHA revised 14 existing standards in the recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction standards. The rule changes took effect on July 15,2019. The purpose of the Standards Improvement Project is to remove or revise outdated, duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent requirements in OSHA’s safety and health standards. This will permit better compliance by employers and reduce costs and paperwork burdens where possible, without reducing employee protections. According to OSHA many of the revisions in this rulemaking reduce costs while improving worker safety and health or privacy. Below are four areas in which OSHA made revisions.
Lifeline breaking-strength requirement
The breaking strength of a lifeline is the maximum load that it can carry without failing or breaking. The minimum breaking-strength requirement for lifelines in the safety belts, lifelines, and lanyards standard, § 1926.104(c), has been 5,400 pounds. OSHA revised the minimum breaking-strength requirement for these lifelines from 5,400 to 5,000 pounds. This revision conforms to 1926.104(c) with the breaking-strength requirements in the fall protection standard at 1926.502(d)(9).
Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals
To avoid unnecessary duplication, OSHA replaced the entire 31 pages of regulatory text for the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM) Standard for construction at § 1926.64 with a cross reference to the identical general industry standard at § 1910.119. Other construction standards have similar cross references to corresponding general industry standards; for example, the Respiratory Protection Standard for construction at § 1926.103 refers to the general industry Respiratory Protection Standard at § 1910.134.
Collection of Social Security Numbers
Recognizing the seriousness of the threat of identity theft and the availability of other methods for tracking employees for research purposes, if needed, OSHA examined SSN collection requirements in its standards. Based on this review, OSHA removed all requirements in its standards to include employee SSNs on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, or other records in order to facilitate employers’ efforts to safeguard employee privacy. Specifically, OSHA deleted the requirements to include an employee’s SSN from 19 standards. Some of these standards include Asbestos, Lead, Bloodborne Pathogens, and Respirable Crystalline Silica.
Today, 911 emergency service is available almost everywhere in North America. In nearly all locations in the United States and Canada, a 911 call over a land-line telephone will link the caller to an emergency-dispatch center. In the United States, most localities with 911 service also have so-called “Enhanced 911,” which will not only connect the land-line caller to a dispatcher, but also will automatically provide the caller’s location to the emergency dispatcher. This automatic-location information is critical for emergency responders in cases when the 911 caller does not know his/her exact location or does not have enough time to provide such information. Although the automatic transmission of location information to emergency dispatchers is customary for land-line telephones, the task of automatically transmitting location information is more complex when the emergency call originates from a wireless telephone.
The revisions address the problem of locating callers, usually cell-phone callers, in remote areas that do not have automatic-location capability. In such areas, OSHA’s revisions require employers to post in a conspicuous location either the latitude and longitude of the worksite or other location-identification information that effectively communicates the location of the worksite. The revisions also require employers to ensure that the communication system they use to contact ambulance service is effective. When using wireless telephones as a communication system that system’s availability varies based on the location of the caller. If an employer is relying upon a communication system at a worksite, it must be effective at the worksite.