As 2016 approaches, employers and employees should begin looking ahead to how they can make sure next year is one of the safest years on worksites. Workplace accidents continue to kill and injure thousands of workers every single year, but Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is continually working to refine safety rules and bring the injury and death rates down.
Safety News Alert reports there are likely to be four new OHSA regulations which will be debuted in early 2016. Employers and employees should watch the results of pending OSHA rule-making to find out what new safety rules will take effect early next year.
Four New OSHA Safety Rules Coming in Early 2016
Some of the potential new Final Rules which could be released soon after the New Year include:
- New limits on exposure to crystalline silica. This new rule is expected to debut in February of 2016 and it is a very important update to OSHA’s outdated permissible exposure limits (PELs). The permissible exposure limits have not been updated for decades, but OSHA will finally change the current permissible exposure limit allowing exposure to 100 micrograms of respirable silica per cubic meter of air (ug/m3). This limit will be cut in half, and employers will now need to get crystalline silica down to 50 ug/m3. Hopefully, this update can significantly reduce the chances of Boston workplace illness claims caused by excessive exposure making employees sick.
- New rules on fall protection systems and on walking working surfaces. In the Regulatory Agenda OSHA published in Spring of 2015, OSHA indicated the new rule would be finalized in 2015. However, the implementation of the new rule has been pushed back for another eight months and is now expected in 2016. OSHA has been trying to update rules on walking working surfaces and fall protection since as far back as 1990.
- Improvements in the tracking of workplace illnesses and workplace injuries. This new rule is expected to go into effect in March of 2015 and will mandate employers submit electronic versions of logs tracking injuries and illnesses. The plan is for public records of electronic logs to become public and available on the Internet. Employees will thus have more information about which worksites are the least safe and have the highest rates of illness and injury.
- Updated standards on eye and face protection. This new rule, also expected in March of 2016, will be based on National Consensus Standards. It has been more than four decades since OSHA has adopted National Consensus Standards in relation to eye and face protection, and while the standards have been updated the OSHA regulations have not changed. Now, OSHA aims to revise its own workplace safety rules to reflect the updated guidelines.
OSHA could also address other issues some time in 2016, including a broad update to permissible exposure limits. Comments have been obtained on the potential update to permissible exposure limits, and OSHA expects to conduct its analysis of the comments in April of 2016. Blood borne pathogen standards are also being reviewed for potential release.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Frith v. WSI – Proving Worsening Condition Is Related to Work Injury, May 27, 2014, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog