Why does OSHA's rulemaking process take so long to complete?

The news this week at OSHA involves the hearings on the proposed Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution; Electrical Protective Equipment standard. This proposed standard was published in the Federal Register on June 15, 2005. The proposed rule would update the standards on electric power generation, transmission, and distribution and on electrical protective equipment for gen...

04/01/2006


The news this week at OSHA involves the hearings on the proposed Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution; Electrical Protective Equipment standard. This proposed standard was published in the Federal Register on June 15, 2005. The proposed rule would update the standards on electric power generation, transmission, and distribution and on electrical protective equipment for general industry and construction.

The hearings took place recently over about a week and a half (there are a lot of items to discuss). However, this is a good opportunity to discuss OSHA's rule making process, and explain the reasons why it takes some time to publish a standard.

Prior to moving into enforcement, I wrote safety standards for about 15 years. I was involved in different phases of the work on several different standards; 29 CFR 1910.146, Permit-Required Confined Spaces and the 1990 proposed standard on Walking and Working Surfaces; Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems) were two of the standards where I had most of my experience. Over the years, the way standards were promulgated changed. Some standards were issued in "plain language". Others used negotiated rule-making.

Regardless, the one thing in common was that standards often took a long time to promulgate. Today, that fact is not likely to change. The standards writing process is a slow one for good reason, as I will explain.

Each standard starts with identifying a hazard. In some cases, those hazards were identified for us, sometimes even before the existence of OSHA. When OSHA was created, Congress gave the agency the authority to adopt existing industry, government or consensus standards. Many of these standards were added to 29 CFR, the regulations regarding health and safety in the workplace. Some of the regulations that OSHA has published or will publish are updates of these early standards. In other cases, OSHA has identified or been informed of hazards which the Agency believed needed to be addressed by rulemaking.

Once OSHA identifies a hazard and/or industry that the agency believes requires regulation, OSHA employees begin to research the subject. They search the existing scientific or industry literature and arrange meetings with individuals, government agencies, and sometimes international organizations. A site visit may be necessary to see the work procedures. Once the background work is finished, OSHA can make an informed decision on whether a standard is needed. Sometimes, rather than immediately developing a proposal, OSHA issues an Advance Notice of Proposed Rule making to solicit more information before.

If a standard is necessary, then work on a proposal proceeds. If this rule is considered to be "significant" as defined by Executive Order 12866, a Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act Panel will be required. As work continues, the OSHA field offices and State plans have input in the process. OSHA is also required by the Paperwork Reduction Act to perform an analysis of the paperwork burden resulting from the rule.

Provided the proposed rule has survived so far, the Office of Management and Budget provides review. OMB may have questions, comments, or ask for changes. After any changes are made, the document may be signed by the Assistant Secretary.

This is the process for a general industry standard (for a construction standard, the process is slightly different) until the proposed standard is issued. Once the proposed standard is signed and published, the process becomes even more oriented toward public input and comment. I'll leave that for my next column.





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2016 Product of the Year; Diagnose bearing failures; Asset performance management; Testing dust collector performance measures
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me