What to Expect from OSHA in 2019

It is the beginning of a new year, and with it brings changes to various health and safety regulations and requirements. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) begins 2019 without a confirmed leader, the agency is continuing to update and modify several of its regulations and policies, as well as increase focus on compliance inspections for emphasized hazards.

Electronic Recordkeeping Requirements

In 2016, OSHA issued a final rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses (20 CFR 1904). This rule required certain facilities to electronically submit the injury and illness information from OSHA 300 and 300A logs.

When the rule was first released, facilities were required to submit forms online by July 1st of the following year. At the beginning of 2019, the submission deadline is changing from July 1st to March 2nd. Another major change to this rule is that companies with 250 or more employees are no longer required to submit information from both their OSHA 300 and 301 forms. Instead, only the information on the 300-A form is required to be submitted. According to OSHA, the revoking of the submission requirements was done to prevent the potential for public disclosure of information that may be sensitive. Although it is no longer required to be submitted online, OSHA 300 and 301 forms must still be completed, posted on site, and kept on hand for at least five years.

Enforcement of Updated Beryllium Standards

On May 20, 2017, OSHA introduced new standards to prevent chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer by limiting employee exposure to beryllium. On December 12, 2018, OSHA began to enforce all provisions for these new standards (General Industry – 29 CFR 1910.1024; Construction – 29 CFR 1926.1124; Shipyard – 29 CFR 1915.1024).

The updated beryllium standard reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter taken as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). A new short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter, taken over a 15-minute sampling period, has also been introduced in the updated standard. Industrial hygiene air monitoring should be conducted to identify employees who may be exposed to concentrations of beryllium higher than the PEL or STEL. Results from air monitoring can be used to identify areas where engineering controls or work practice controls can be used to limit employee exposure to beryllium, such as installing ventilation or enclosure systems. If these control measures cannot adequately reduce employee exposure to beryllium, and all other controls have been considered, respirators should be provided to employees. Facilities that utilize beryllium should develop a written exposure control plan and should train employees on hazards associated with beryllium exposure. Medical exams should be provided to employees identified with a beryllium-related disease.

OSHA Increases Penalty Amounts in 2019

As of January 23, 2019, OSHA has increased the penalty amounts to adjust for inflation. The table below lists the new penalty amounts compared to those from 2018, as specified in 29 CFR 1903.15:

Violation Type Penalty Amount (2018) Penalty Amount (2019)
Willful Violation Minimum: $9,239 Maximum: $129,336 Minimum: $9,472 Maximum: $132,598
Repeated Violation $129,336 $132,598
Serious Violation $12,934 $13,260
Other-Than-Serious Violation $12,934 $13,260
Failure to Correct Violation (per day beyond abatement date) $12,934 $13,260
Posting Requirement Violation $12,934 $13,260

OSHA Plans to Update Hazard Communication Standard

In 2012, OSHA released a major update to align its hazard communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) to the United Nation’s (UN’s) Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). At the time, the updated hazard communication rule aligned with GHS Revision 3. However, the UN updates the GHS regulations every 2 years. OSHA is planning on updating the current hazard communication standard to align with the latest edition of the GHS sometime later in 2019.  While no changes have been made yet, it is important to ensure that your facility is complying with the current hazard communication standard.

Looking Ahead

OSHA is continuing to update its regulations and policies in 2019. Recently updated regulations, such as the respirable crystalline silica rule and beryllium rule are being fully enforced, and new updates are being planned for later in the year. It is important to review your facility’s safety programs to ensure that they comply with the most recent updates of their applicable regulations. If you have any questions regarding complying with current or proposed OSHA regulations, please contact CTI atcti@conversiontechnology.com

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