The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was very busy in 2019. OSHA performed 33,401 workplace inspections in 2019, which is more than the previous 3 years, and there are no signs indicating that OSHA will reduce the number of inspections in 2020. OSHA has also adjusted fines in 2020 to account for inflation.
OSHA recently released its agenda for potential changes to various rules and regulations. OSHA published a Request for Information in May 2019 to update lockout/tagout regulations to potentially include the use of computer-based energy control systems. OSHA will analyze comments received from this information request and may hold meetings to discuss potential changes. OSHA also published a Request for Information in March 2019 to potentially update standards for powered industrial trucks. The current standard acknowledges old and potentially outdate ANSI standards. OSHA may potentially update powered industrial truck standards to account for technological updates with forklift design and construction.
In April 2020, OSHA is planning on issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking for its walking-working surfaces rule to clarify requirements for stair rail systems in response to feedback OSHA received from employers about the standard being unclear. Additionally, OSHA is planning on publishing a Request for Information in July 2020 in order to potentially update its mechanical power press standard in order to account for technological advances in industry. The current standard is about 40 years old.
OSHA has begun to focus in more on combustible dust hazards at industrial facilities. Facilities are being inspected for housekeeping procedures in areas with combustible dust accumulations, and OSHA is checking if facilities have completed a dust hazard analysis (DHA) in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Consensus standard NFPA 652 states that a DHA shall be completed for existing processes and facilities by September 7, 2020, and that all DHAs shall be reviewed and updated every 5 years.
OSHA has teamed up with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Robot Industries Association (RIA) for their inspectors to learn more on industrial robots, including the types of robots being used, the hazards associated with them, and the standards that govern them. This information gathering is intended to allow their inspectors to get a better grasp of how robots are used in the field and for the inspectors and directors to understand the consensus standards (ANSI/RIA R15.06) and the requirements for robot safety in order to issue more precise citations.
OSHA’s schedule and priorities are always subject to change as the year goes by, but as of now, no significant new changes are in the works for 2020. OSHA will likely continue to increase workplace inspections, and information requests will be held for potential changes to outdated rules and standards. If you would like help ensuring you are in compliance with all OSHA requirements, including compliance with combustible dust standards and NFPA 652, please contact CTI at (770) 263-6330.