SHIPYARD SAFETY emphasis on whistleblower protection and support, a point that gave Republican Senators in particular pause and concern. In a statement, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said, “While I continue to believe there are no impediments to Mr. Perez’s confirmation, I am agreeing to postpone his Committee vote until May 8th, in order to allow those Senators who have asked the time to request additional information they
believe they need, and to evaluate his qualifications.” At press time, the vote had been further delayed. While Perez’ formal confirmation is in limbo for the time being, all indication is that OSHA Administrator, David Michaels, will stay on to lead the agency. As a result, we expect continuity on OSHA’s main enforcement and regulatory policy and priorities. The past four years have witnessed aggressive enforcement activities, which we
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“We expect continuity on OSHA’s main enforcement and regulatory policy.” expect to continue. The agency has committed significant resources to its program. On the rulemaking front, we similarly expect to see increased activity. While there was generally a slow down in regulatory activity in advance of the presidential election last year, we expect OSHA now to return to an active agenda advancing its major priorities. Some specific regulatory initiatives with serious potential impacts on the shipbuilding and repair industry include: Injury and Illness PreventIon Program (IIPP): OSHA’s IIPP rule is widely viewed as the agency’s most significant regulatory priority. Though in its early stages, this rulemaking would mandate an OSHA-designated and developed safety management system for all workplaces. OSHA has indicated that it is ready to begin the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) process, seeking input from affected small business entities. CombustIble dust: OSHA is developing a rule addressing combustible dust hazards for general industry. The scope of the rule is expected to be broad, and will impact shipbuilding and repair. C rys ta l l I n e s I l I C a : T h e l o n g expected regulation of crystalline silica is a particularly significant rulemaking considering it is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other minerals found almost everywhere. In OSHA’s first draft in 2002, the Agency considered lowering the permissible exposure limit for the substance, implementing extensive housekeeping requirements, including prohibiting dry sweeping, requiring exposure monitoring and the establishment of regulated areas, and imposing medical surveillance obligations. strICter Injury and Illness rePortIng oblIgatIons: OSHA has proposed requiring employers report workplace amputations to the agency within 24 hours, and all in-patient hospitalizations within eight hours. Existing recordkeeping rules only require employers to report in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees to OSHA within eight hours. ■
Ian Bennitt is Manager of Government Affairs at the Shipbuilders Council of America, where he focuses on commercial shipbuilding and repair markets, shipyard safety, environmental & energy, and labor issues.