The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is vested with the responsibility to make rules related to workplace safety. OSHA suffers from being understaffed and underfunded, which means inspections of workplaces do not occur with sufficient frequency. The process of making rules can also be prolonged, leaving many lingering work safety issues that endanger employees due to lack of regulation.
Despite its problems, however, OSHA does continually work towards improving conditions and reducing the dangers that people face on-the-job. This year, for example, OSHA is planning to both create some new regulations and to update some olds ones. Employers need to be aware of changing OSHA rules and workers need to know what their new rights are. A Greenville work accident attorney can provide information to injured employees on their legal options after getting hurt on-the-job.
Changing OSHA Regulations Provide New Employee Protections
Safety News Alert summarized some of the changes that OSHA is making to workplace safety regulations in 2015. The three new final rules that OSHA plans to issue over the course of the year include:
- New rules for confined spaces in construction. OSHA has regulations for combined spaces that apply to general industries. However, the agency does not specifically have rules related to protecting employees in confined spaces in the construction industry. This new regulation will change that and provide protection to construction workers entering and working within small areas.
- New rules for personal fall protection systems and walking work surfaces. OSHA has been trying to update the standards to protect workers from trips and falls since 1990. This year, hopefully the new rule will finally go into effect in June of 2015.
- New requirements for tracking workplace illnesses and injuries. Larger employers will now be required to submit electronic versions of illness and injury logs. The logs will need to be made public.
OSHA has also proposed moving forward with other regulatory efforts this upcoming year, although it has not yet started the process of making final rules. For example:
- The agency has issued a request for information on how to fix outdated permissible exposure limits. There are also some chemicals and hazards that are not regulated at all, and OSHA is exploring the possibility of putting limits into place. The comment period ends in April of this year and OSHA may be able to move forward with the creation of a new proposed rule.
- The agency has issued a request for information on how to modernize the Process Safety Management standard. The goal is to try to prevent major chemical accidents by setting more effective standards. The next steps involve initiating a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act to meet with representatives and address how the regulatory burdens could affect small business.
- The agency is planning to issue a request for information on how to reduce the fatality rate among communication tower workers. Within this industry, the fatality rate is more than 10 times the rate for construction workers.
The fact that OSHA is only beginning to request information on some of these serious work safety issues is a testament to how slowly the agency works. Still, it is good news that at least the agency is recognizing some serious risks and beginning to move forward in finding ways to correct them.
Contact the South Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
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