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

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.


M ost of OSHA’s current standards were adopted from consensus standards by the Agency in 1971. Consequently, those standards are quite old and many are outdated as the consensus standards for the most part have kept up with technology and safety and health new developments and improvements. OSHA standards, unfortunately, have not.

In the 1990’s OSHA initiated (to their credit) a process to update many of these “old” standards. The process is called OSHA’s Standards Improvement Project or SIP (which even though this seems easy, the prose still has to follow OSHA’s full rulemaking process.) To date there have been four final rule SIPs issued (1998, 2005, 2011, and 2019). The 2019 SIP was issued on May 13th 2019, and provides updates for many safety and health standards that impact general industry, construction, and maritime. The key provision that did not make it into the final standard mind was for an update was for the removal of the words “unexpected energization ” for the LOTO standard (29 CFR 1910.147).

This blog piece provides a short summary of the changes included in the 14 provisions of the final rule:

Provision 1:

OSHA proposed to revise 1904.10(b)(6) of the recordkeeping rule with language that would assist employers to comply with the requirements for recording hearing loss.

Title 29 CFR 1904.5 applies to the determination criteria for work-relatedness of all occupational injuries and illnesses, which includes hearing loss. OSHA had proposed adding a cross reference to this section to clarify requirements for physicians or other licensed health care providers (PLHCPs) when making a determination of work-relatedness for cases of hearing loss. The final rule is identical to the proposed rule.

The addition of the cross-reference simply emphasizes the pre-existing requirement that, if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the hearing loss, or significantly aggravated a pre-existing hearing loss, the PLHCP, just as anybody else evaluating a case involving hearing loss, must consider the case to be work-related.

Provision 2:

Subpart Z of Parts 1910, 1915, AND 1926 – Toxic and Hazardous Substances in Asbestos, Inorganic Arsenic, Cadmium, Coke Oven Emissions, and Acrylonitrile.

OSHA proposed three revisions. The first revision was to remove the requirement that employers provide periodic x-rays to screen for lung cancer – the requirement for a baseline x-ray remains in the standards. The second provision was to allow employers to use digital radiography and other reasonably sized films for x-rays. The final rule is the same as the proposal. The third revision was to update terminology and references to the ILO guidelines included in the Asbestos standard. The final rule is nearly identical to the proposal with a few minor changes to address some language from NIOSH.

Provision 3:

Subpart Z of Part 1910 – Toxic and Hazardous Substances, Cotton dust in 29 CFR 1910.1043 – OSHA originally proposed to update the lung-function testing requirements to align them with current practices and technology with slight modifications based on language from NIOSH.

OSHA is now specifying the use of the NHANES III reference data set and to replace the values currently in Appendix C with the NHANES III values derived from Spirometric Reference Values from a sample of the General U.S. Population which were incorporated by reference.

Provision 4:

Subpart F of 1915 – General Working Conditions, Definition in 29 CFR 1915.80. Paragraph (b)(33) of 1915.80 defines the term “vermin” as insects, birds, and other animals including rodents and feral cats that may create safety and health hazards for employees.

Stakeholders raised concerns about the inclusion of feral cats in the definition. OSHA proposed to remove “feral cats” from the definition. The final standard has feral cats removed for the definition of vermin.

Provision 5:

Subpart D of Part 1926 – Occupational Health and Environmental Controls and first aid in 29 CFR 1926.50.

Under this standard employers must provide specified medical services and first aid to employees to address serious injuries that may occur on the job. Since 1979, OSHA has required the posting of telephone numbers or physicians, hospitals, or ambulances for worksites located in areas where 911 emergency services are not available. OSHA adopted this requirement when 911 emergency service was still a relatively new concept, and was available only in certain parts of the country. With the advent of expanded 911 services and the availability of cell phones this requirement may be burdensome. The proposed revisions provides the employer with more leeway to ensure that the communication system in use to contact an ambulance service is effective. The final standard is identical to the proposed standard.

Provision 6:

Subpart D of Part 1926 – Occupational and Environmental Controls, Gases, vapor, fumes, dusts, and mists in 29 CFR 1926.55 – These provisions establish exposure limits for many toxic chemicals used during construction activities.

These provisions are the counterpart the OSHA’s general industry standard under 1910.1000. The construction standards however referenced the TLV from which these exposure levels were adopted in 29 CFR 1926.55. The proposed standard changed TLV to PEL and was adopted in the final standard.

Provision 7:

Subpart D of part 1926 – Occupational Health and Environmental Controls – Process Safety Management of highly hazardous chemicals in 29 CFR 1926.64 – In order to avoid duplication OSHA proposed removing the entire 31 pages of regulatory text under 1926.64 and adding a cross reference to the identical general industry standard under 29 CFR 1910.119. The final standard is identical to the proposal.

Provision 8:

Subpart E of Part 1926 – Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment, safety belts, life lines, and lanyards.

The minimum breaking-strength for lifelines in the safety belts, lifelines, and lanyards standard 29 CFR 1926.104(c) had been 5400 pounds. OSHA proposed revising the minimum breaking-strength from 5400 to 5000 pounds (in line with general industry). The final standard is the same as the proposal.

Provision 9:

Subpart G of Part 1926 – Signs, signals, and barricades – Subpart G has required that employers comply with Part 6 of the manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), the 1988 Edition, Revision 3 – 1988 edition or December 2000 edition.

OSHA proposed to revise subpart G to update the incorporation reference of Part 6 of the MUTCD to the November 2009 Edition. The final standard is identical to the proposed standard.

Provision 10:

Subpart H of Part 1926 – Materials Handling, Storage, Use, and Disposal, General requirements for storage in 29 CFR 1926.250 – Subpart H of OSHA’s construction standards govern the handling, storage, use, and disposal of construction materials on a worksite.

Section 1926.250 addresses safe storage of building materials inside buildings under construction and requires employers to post maximum safe loads of floors in storage areas. OSHA proposed revising this to exclude residential construction from the posting requirement. The final rule differs from the proposal only in that the final rule uses the term “all single-family residential structures and wood framed multi-family residential structures” instead of detached single-family dwellings or townhouses that are under construction.

Provision 11:

Subpart S of Part 1926 – Underground Construction, Caissons, Cofferdams, and compressed air, Underground construction in 29 CFR 1026.800 – OSHA required under 1926.800(k)(10)(ii) that mobile diesel-powered equipment used in “other gassy operations” underground be approved by MSHA in accordance with provisions of 30 CFR Part 32, or that the employer can demonstrate that the equipment is:”fully equivalent” to MSHA-approved equipment.

In 1996 MSHA revoked part 32 and replaced it with an updated provision in 30 CFR Part 7, subpart E, and 30 CFR 75.1909 Non-permissible diesel-powered equipment design and performance requirements. OSHA proposed to update the regulatory language to cross-reference these updated provisions. The final OSHA standard requires compliance only with 57.5067, pertaining to underground metal and non-metal mines, not 75.1901, 75.1910 and 75.1911 (a) through (i) pertaining to underground coal mines.

Provision 12:

Subpart Z of Part 1926 – Toxic and Hazardous Substances, Coke oven emissions in 29 CFR 1926.1129 – This construction standard regulates exposure to coke oven emissions in construction.

OSHA incorporated this standard into 1926 standards. OSHA did not discuss the application of coke ovens to construction. The provisions of the coke oven standard, however, do not fit with construction work, thus OSHA proposed deleting the standard from construction which was enacted in the final standard.

Provision 13:

Additional revisions to paragraphs and appendices in 29 CFR 1910, 1915, and 1926 to remove Social Security Number collection requirements.

OSHA proposed deleting the requirements to include employee social security numbers from 19 expanded health standards. The final standard is the same as the proposal.

Note – in OSHA’s final SIP IV standard the Agency goes into a lot of detail on the specifics for each update. For more information refer to the complete SIPs standard from OSHA.

Rich Fairfax

Mr. Fairfax works part time as a consultant for ORC HSE. In his role as a consultant he supports ORC HSE members by providing expert advice on OSHA issues, their HSE issues, conducting surveys on topics of member concern, leading efforts to comment on policy and regulatory issues from OSHA, speaking, and visits to member sites. Disclaimer: Please note, the material located on our site is for informational purposes only, is general in nature, and is not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific issue or factual circumstance. Read Rich's Full Bio