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• OSHA says it has no plans to kill the VPP program but believes participants should pay to participate. Some sort of self-funding mechanism would be needed. • VPP stakeholders are opposed to any change in the program. The Senate budget committee unanimously passed an amendment that would prohibit a decrease in VPP funding. Legislation has been introduced in the Senate to codify VPP and protect its funding. My best guess is that OSHA will allow Congress to deter- mine the future of VPP. Insiders don’t believe that the VPP legislation will be enacted, but its introduction may have put enough pressure on OSHA to allow the program to continue in its present form. Most insiders don’t be- lieve that OSHA considers this fight worth pursuing at this time.
Agency Activity Continues at a Torrid Pace In presentations before AIHce in Denver and the ASSE meeting in Baltimore, OSHA adminis- trator David Michaels said that OSHA’s priorities include establishing an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) and increasing monetary and criminal penalties for employers who willfully endanger lives. Michaels also stated that improving standards, updating the PELs, hiring more inspectors and devel- oping new enforcement efforts are on his agenda. Here’s a quick look at these and other agency efforts: Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2). Employers would be responsible for developing their own program and process to locate hazards in the workplace. The idea is that employers are more aware of the hazards in their workplace and should address them rather than wait for an OSHA inspection to determine compliance. OSHA is holding stakeholder meetings to solicit ideas about what I2P2 should include and how it should be en- forced. Once these meetings are concluded, OSHA will draft a proposal for review, possibly by late fall. However, OSHA says that a final program rule is probably a year or two away at best. Updating the PELs. After much pressure from AIHA and others, OSHA has assumed a leadership role in address- ing the issue of the outdated PELs. OSHA created an in- ternal working group to examine various options and has David Michaels
now expanded this group to include stakeholders. The group may need several months to determine how to proceed, but they are considering all options, including a possible legislative fix, a control banding standard, and expansion of the general duty clause. AIHA members continue to believe this is the number one issue for the IH profession. Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). OSHA’s SVEP directive to focus on employers who continually disregard their legal obligations to protect workers be- came effective in mid-June. This program includes mandatory follow-up inspections, enhanced settlement provisions, and federal court enforcement. Cranes and Derricks Rule. A final rule to strengthen crane and derrick safety was published in July and is ex- pected to take effect in November. The final rule has been worked on for more than ten years. MSD Column on OSHA 300 Log. OSHA says it is nearly finished with the final rule to restore the MSD column on the OSHA 300 log. Agency personnel say they hope to issue the final rule no later than August so states can im- plement it by 2011. Hearing Conservation for Construction Workers. AIHA recently sent a letter to OSHA urging the agency to ad- dress the issue of hearing conservation for construction workers. Unfortunately, OSHA responded to AIHA that al- though this issue is important, the agency has removed it from the regulatory agenda because of limited resources. Electronic Recordkeeping. The comment period recently closed on OSHA’s efforts to modernize the injury and ill- ness data collection process, which OSHA believes would provide the agency with data that would improve occupa- tional safety and health. No timeline has been established, but OSHA is expected to move forward on this issue. Collaboration. OSHA and NIOSH are now working to- gether on many fronts. One of the most promising areas is OSHA’s agreement to use NIOSH risk assessments for OSHA rules instead of doing its own risk assessment. This collaboration should save time and resources.