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OSHA’s Standard Improvement Project (SIP) – SIPs IV

From a previous ORC HSE blog we learned that under ideal circumstances it will take OSHA over four years to issue a safety and health standard. The same process and time frame is in place if OSHA wants to revoke a standard or update a standard.

Interpretation of OSHA’s Confined Spaces Standard

ORCHSE Consultant Rich Fairfax focuses his attention on OSHA’s confined spaces standard, offering his advice on several issues raised by members.

Lead Poisoning & OSHA: Is it Time to Reconsider?

I recently read a piece on lead poisoning in the May 2019 edition of Scientific American magazine in the “50, 100 & 150 Years Ago” section. The short write-up was entitled 1969 – Lead Poisoning Epidemic and reads as follows:

“Though lead pigments were eliminated from interior paints in the U. S. some 20 years ago, multiple layers of lead-based paint still cover the walls and woodwork in many old houses and apartments. Therefore, lead poisoning, once an occupational hazard for painters, is now primarily a disease of small children and toddlers between one and five who live in slum housing and nibble steadily at the paint that flakes off dilapidated walls and can be gnawed off peeling windowsills. At a conference at Rockefeller University in March (1969) participants estimated that lead poisoning in children is much more prevalent than is generally assumed, but they pointed out that the ‘silent epidemic’ could be eliminated by aggressive medical, social, and legal action.”

OSHA’s Rulemaking Process: Why Does it Take So Long?

A question I receive frequently is “Why does the OSHA setting of a standard take so long?” The reasons are many. Multiple requirements – statutory, legislative, judicial, and administrative – combine to slow the standards development process.

OSHA Inspections and Document Requests

Over the last several years ORC HSE has received enquiries from member companies in regard to excessive document requests at the beginning of an OSHA inspection. In some cases the requests by the Agency for documents and copies of programs will run two or more pages in length. These requests are provided to the employer during the opening conference. The concerns raised by ORC HSE member companies is that the requests seem open-ended, are very long, and contain requests for information that do not appear to be at all related to the reason and scope of the OSHA inspection as explained by the compliance officer. According to these companies the time involved to produce the items asked for would be excessive, especially for a limited scope inspection.

OSHA’s Treatment of Voluntary Employer Health and Safety Self-Audits

In 1996, ORC HSE (formerly ORC) visited the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on behalf of several member companies to request that the agency limit OSHA compliance safety and health officers’ practice of asking to see employer self-audits during the normal course of their inspections.

OSHA & Repeat Violations

In the March 8th, 2018 edition of the National Law Review, it was reported that on February 14th, 2018 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a summary order upholding the characterization of a citation as “Repeat” even though the prior citations in a contested case were issued over four years prior.