The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 as a result of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Its goal is to ensure that working conditions are safe and healthy. This regulatory agency sets and enforces rules and standards and provides training, education, and assistance. Safety is always the top priority, particularly when we are discussing industries that are inherently more dangerous for employees, such as construction and manufacturing. Let’s look at the OSHA changes 2022 has seen.
As employers have an obligation and responsibility to provide a safe workplace, it is essential that they are in compliance with these standards. Here is a look at OSHA changes in 2022 of which you need to be aware.
The OSHA Rule-Making Process
But first, let’s start by briefly discussing the OSHA rulemaking process for some context. It’s… well, complex. Some of the OSHA changes 2022 saw will take some time. It can take years for new standards to be approved and for existing standards to be revised. This is mostly because OSHA goes through a highly intensive seven-step process that includes:
- Making the Decision; Conducting Preliminary Rulemaking Activities (12-36 months). Here, decision-makers start by identifying a health or safety hazard and conduct research to better understand it. There are myriad steps – hence the long timeline!
- Developing the Rule (12 - 36 months). This step encompasses risk assessment, feasibility studies, stakeholder discussions, data analysis, etc.
- Publishing the Proposed Rule (2 -3 months). They submit it to the SBA, among other bodies.
- Developing and Analyzing the Rulemaking Record (6 - 24 months). Here, OSHA analyzes data and public comments and prepares a summary.
- Developing the Final Rule (18 - 36 months). Risk assessment, feasibility, cost, and other assessments are finalized.
- Publishing the Final Rule (2 - 3 months).
- Post-Promulgation Activities (4 - 12 months). In this final stage, OSHA develops and publishes compliance guides, outreach and training materials, compliance directives, and letters of interpretation.
No wonder it takes so long for a rule to change or become adopted! Now we can move on to some OSHA changes that should be on your radar.
OSHA Changes 2022
Increased Inspections at Trenching and Excavation Sites
Working in trenches and excavation is inherently risky. Unfortunately, there have been over a dozen fatalities in these areas this year alone. Due to this increase in trench-related deaths, OSHA will step up its enforcement activities on these sites. Compliance officers will conduct more trench inspections, and there will be a more intense focus on evaluating penalties in regard to trenching and excavation incidents. These may include state or federal prosecution that holds employers accountable if their actions or lack of action creates an unsafe environment and puts employees’ lives at risk.
Walking-Working Surfaces Rule
This rule relates to stairs, catwalks, and other walking-working surfaces. OSHA identified and acknowledged that many aspects were unclear and has revised them to ensure they are more clear and in line with their intent. For example, they require each flight of stairs with at least three treads and at least four risers to have a stair rail system and handrails and have corrected a formatting error related to this requirement.
Hazardous Machinery (Machine Guarding and Lockout/Tagout)
Machine guarding and Lockout/Tagout programs will be under increased scrutiny by OSHA compliance officers and there is updated guidance around identifying and reducing or eliminating amputation hazards in manufacturing and related industries. The lack of proper machine guarding is one of the top 10 most frequently cited violations. Employers must ensure that any machine component, part, function, or process that could cause injury is guarded, and they must provide safety training for new operators, maintenance personnel, and others who may come into contact with these machines.
Heat Illness Standard
The OSHA National Emphasis Program (NEP) is designed to reduce workplace heat-related illnesses and injuries. The NEP seeks to improve compliance and enforcement initiatives, including conducting inspections in more than 70 high-risk industries (such as construction). They will also do outreach when the heat index is 80 degrees F or warmer. This is one that will impact us here in the Sunshine State; many businesses are concerned that it may give OSHA a license to enter any job site when temperatures exceed the 80-degree threshold. Protecting the health and safety of workers is essential, especially when the weather is brutal.
OSHA Training You Can Trust
It is challenging to keep up with all of the OSHA regulations that pertain to your business as well as the layers of change that come year after year. But compliance is essential. Proper OSHA training is a must for employees at all levels (even you!). To put your mind at ease and make sure you are doing everything you can to make your work environment and job sites as safe and healthful as possible, contact Labor for Hire. Our innovative approach to OSHA training and unparalleled support ensure that safety is always first.