Friday, February 6, 2009

New OSHA Administration

Until the new Obama Administration has the opportunity to place all of its appointees, the actions of OSHA will somewhat follow those of the past administration. However, here is a brief update for what is happening in these first days of 2009.

As the Obama administration took office, OSHA published two proposed rules in the Federal Register. OSHA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on occupational exposure to diacetyl and food flavorings containing diacetyl was published in the Jan. 21 issue of the Federal Register. In addition, that issue of the Federal Register includes a proposed rule for revised fit tests for respiratory protection. In addition, a Bush administration rule on worker exposure to toxic substances was blocked. The rule caused concern, because safety experts explained that it would require a longer time frame for determining hazards.

The diacetyl ANPR seeks public comments on the following issues:

• The relationship between exposure to diacetyl and the development of adverse health effects
• Methods to evaluate and monitor exposure
• Methods to control exposure
• Employee training
• Medical observation for adverse health effects related to diacetyl exposure

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on respirator fit testing includes two revised fit test procedures under OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard.

The current rules incorporate two categories of respirator fit tests. Some tests expose wearers to airborne agents to determine if they can detect them and other tests use a machine to measure how much of a test agent leaks into a respirator. The proposed revisions would allow certain machine-based fit tests to be conducted more quickly and increase the required score for passing them.

To submit comments on either the diacetyl or respiratory protection standards, visit http://www.regulations.gov, and follow the online instructions.

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