Super Committee Super-fail
At the tail end of 2011, the budget was
still the big story on Capitol Hill. The so-
called super committee’s failure in No-
vember to cut $1.2 trillion from federal
spending over the next ten years
spawned a couple of interesting possible
• Congress could accept the failure,
which would trigger automatic spend-
ing cuts. Defense would take the
biggest hit; however, other federal
agencies would see cuts of approxi-
mately 10 percent across the board.
Imagine what that would do to agencies such as OSHA, MSHA, and
• Congress could change the law that
requires these spending cuts.
• Because the automatic spending cuts
would not take effect until 2013, Congress could simply delay taking any
final action on this issue until after
the 2012 election. That tells you all
you need to know about what might
Several legislative measures introduced
in Congress would make numerous
changes to how the regulatory process is
conducted in federal agencies. Although
this issue is still alive in the House, the
Senate rejected a bill containing many
of the proposals in November. This bill
would have frozen all rulemaking, re-
quired agencies to examine the indirect
impacts of their rules on small busi-
nesses, required Congressional approval
of regulations expected to cost more
than $100 million, permitted legal chal-
lenges to proposed regulations, and ex-
tended the coverage of the regulatory
flexibility act to agency guidance docu-
Here is a quick look at some of the pending regulatory issues that are of great interest to AIHA members and others:
Globally Harmonized System (GHS).
OSHA’s proposed rule to update its hazard communication standard with the
GHS was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Oct. 25. OMB
has until Jan. 24 to provide its recommendation on the proposal. Industry has
raised two concerns:
1. The original proposal provided manufacturers a three-year period before
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) had to be
updated. However, training for employees on the SDSs was to be completed within two years.
2. Another provision contains a U.S.-only enhancement to the GHS: the
definition and use of “unclassified
hazards.” Industry has concerns about
While AIHA has not seen the final
proposal, we are still concerned that,
under GHS, the TLV®s would no longer
be required to be referenced in the hazard communication standard. AIHA and
several other stakeholders oppose removal of the TLVs and recommend that
they should at least be referenced in a
Silica. OSHA’s proposal to lower the silica exposure level was sent to OMB in
February 2011. AIHA recently sent a letter to OMB requesting that the proposal
be sent back to OSHA with a recommendation one way or the other.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) column.
This OSHA proposal would add an MSD
column to the OSHA 300 Log. At one
point, OSHA withdrew the proposal due
to opposition, but word is that the
agency hopes to send it back to OMB.
Republicans in Congress have expressed
opposition and would likely get more involved if this issue were to move.
Injury and Illness Prevention Program
(I2P2). Following several stakeholder
meetings and OSHA’s public declaration
that I2P2 is its number one priority, the
momentum behind I2P2 seems to have
dissipated. A small business regulatory
review is the next required step, but this
review has not yet been scheduled.
While this remains OSHA’s top priority,
it’s clear that the agency believes the effort will take several years.
And speaking of I2P2, MSHA is
preparing an advance notice of proposed
rulemaking that would create a similar
program for mines. However, many
stakeholders are concerned about the
impact separate programs might have,
especially for workplaces covered by
both MSHA and OSHA.
Combustible dust. After waiting several
years for the agency to develop a combustible dust standard, word is this issue
will not be addressed until after I2P2.
That means it is essentially done.
Aaron Trippler directs government affairs for more
than 70 local sections and serves as AIHA’s chief liaison with Congress and federal agencies. He can
be reached at (703) 846-0730 or email@example.com.