OSHA tardily published its Fall Regulatory Agenda on December 21. The Administration did not even publish the Spring Agenda, and commentators for management and labor have described the dates as bearing little relationship with temporal reality as we know it.
While the proposed Combustible Dust and Beryllium Standards made the list for further action, they are still placed in the system a long way from completion.
The Administration has caused concern among employers with its proposed I2P2 Standard requiring every employer to prepare an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. This is a sound idea but there is concern that such a standard would allow wide-ranging citations against employers who would in essence be responsible to develop their own OSHA standards.
The program has long been earmarked as the Obama administration’s top priority for new workplace safety regulations.
Under the latest agenda, a small business review panel on I2P2 was to be initiated Jan. 6, 2012, with the panel set to complete its work in January 2013. A notice of proposed rulemaking is set for December 2013. But OSHA has not even started the small business review.
What do we learn from the newly released Agenda? Well, for starters, we can conclude that the Agenda itself is not a realistic guide to when new standards appear and has little relevance. Perhaps it will be easier for a newly emboldened administration to force through new standards in 2013; however, no administration in the last 20 years has been able to consistently overcome the challenges to producing new OSHA standards. An obvious question is whether OSHA will increasingly follow the NLRB’s example and make new law through Directives, Interpretations and other executive actions. seems likely….