With the election of Barack Obama as our new President, the United States is in for some changes. “Change” was a theme of his campaign, and so it will be. But will OSHA be part of that “change”? If so, when? These are questions being asked in the safety and health community. The selection of Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) as Secretary of Labor has provided a good idea of the direction the White House will take regarding OSHA.
In addition, Ms. Solis selected Mr. Jordan Barab as Deputy Secretary of Labor, and Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. In a speech on May 13 at the 2009 Legislative Conference, Mr. Barab stated that enforcement and standards development will increase throughout the Labor Department including OSHA. According to Mr. Barab, several OSHA standards that have been pending for quite some time will be pushed through the rulemaking process. On January 22, 2009, SMACNA submitted comments to OSHA on a proposed rule for Crane and Derricks in Construction. The proposed standard includes new requirements for the various aspects of operating cranes and derricks including assembly and disassembly, inspection of the equipment, overhead power line safe distance, and fall protection. SMACNA comments focus on four areas of the proposed rule: overhead and gantry cranes, signalman qualifications, operator certification, and responsibilities of the “controlling entity”.
SMACNA also recently submitted comments to OSHA on a rule for Confined Spaces in Construction. That controversial standard is far different from the existing confined space standard for General Industry. SMACNA’s comments are available for review on the members only SMACNA Safety Webpage at www.smacna.org/safety. The final release of these standards is unknown, but they are not expected to be final until at least early 2010.
Whatever happens in the next few months or next few years, the new administration will likely take a different direction than the past administration and new regulations are likely to follow. Stay tuned.
For questions on Federal OSHA and the proposed standards mentioned above, contact Mike McCullion in the SMACNA safety department at 703-995-4027 or firstname.lastname@example.org