New Developments in Occupational Safety and Health

Date: October 23, 2001
Recordkeeping Recording Rule Goes Forward With Minor Changes, OSHA Delays Effective Date For Steel Erection Standard. (a) Recordkeeping Recording Rule Goes Forward With Minor Changes. The Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule on recordkeeping would, for the most part, go into effect as scheduled on January 1, 2002. The DOL is seeking comment on two proposed modifications. The first change proposed by the DOL is that the criteria for recording work-related hearing loss not be implemented for one year pending further investigation into the level of hearing loss that should be recorded as a “significant” health condition. This change is in response to comments the DOL received pointing out that the medical community and State worker compensation systems do not support the current rule’s hearing loss standard. The second proposed change is to delay for one year the recordkeeping rule’s definition of “musculoskeletal disorder” (MSD) and the requirement that employers check the MSD column on the OSHA Log. The DOL claims that the definitions of “ergonomic injury” and MSD are an open issue to be decided as a result of the department’s plan to address ergonomic hazards. The rule increases employee involvement, hopefully creates simpler forms and gives employers flexibility to use computers to meet OSHA requirements. OSHA issued the final rule on Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements in January of this year. The rule is scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2002. In regard to the increased employee involvement under the new rule, employees and their representatives will be involved in the recordkeeping system in several ways: (1) you must inform each employee of how he or she is to report an injury or illness, (2) you must provide limited access to your injury and illness records for your employees and their representatives, (3) employees, former employees, their personal representatives, and their authorized employee representatives (including an employee union representative) have the right to access the OSHA injury and illness records (in particular, the OSHA 300 Log, the primary source for reporting occupational illnesses and injuries and the OSHA 301 Incident Report). If an employee or representative requests access to the OSHA 300 Log or the OSHA 301 Incident Report, or requests copies of the OSHA 300 Log(s) or the OSHA 301 Incident Report, you must provide the representative a copy of the relevant material by the end of the next business day. Employers cannot charge the employee representative for the copies the first time they are printed. Detailed information on the new “recordkeeping” rules can be found on the OSHA website at (b) OSHA Delays Effective Date For Steel Erection Standard. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced that its final steel erection standard will go into effect January 18, 2002 instead of January 2001 as planned. The new effective date gives additional time to the industry to become familiar with the new requirements and to provide training to employees in the construction industry. OSHA is also preparing outreach and training material to assist industry in the training process. The additional six months will also allow employers time to make the necessary changes to avoid costly re-fabrication of already made components and avoid serious delays to projects that would affect all trades involved in the construction process. The steel erection standard was developed to enhance protections provided to ironworkers by addressing the hazards that have been identified as the major causes of injuries and fatalities in the steel erection industry. These are hazards associated with working under loads; hoisting, landing and placing decking; column stability; double connections; landing and placing steel joints; and falls to lower levels. OSHA claims that the standard is expected to prevent 30 fatalities and 1,142 injuries annually and save employers nearly $40 million a year.