Indianapolis – OSHA will not begin any significant new initiatives until a permanent assistant secretary is in place, Bill Perry, director of the agency’s Directorate of Standards and Guidance, said Monday during a Technical Session at the 2017 National Safety Council Congress & Expo.
Loren Sweatt currently is the acting assistant secretary.
“For now, we’re pretty much as an agency just keeping the ship straight, taking care of all of our business as usual,” Perry said during the session on OSHA’s current activities. “We’re kind of going along in the regulatory agenda, doing the research, and gathering the facts and information that an assistant secretary will ultimately want to know to figure out what they really want to focus on.”
Perry said OSHA is planning to submit a proposed rule to update its Hazard Communication Standard (1910.1200) to version 7 of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. It currently is linked to GHS version 3.
Meanwhile, Perry said oral arguments are slated to begin this week in a consolidated lawsuit against the respirable crystalline silica final rule. The decision likely won’t come for months, he indicated.
“We’re very much looking forward to that and have been working very hard with our attorneys,” Perry said. “I think things look pretty good, but you never know what a court is going to do. So we will see.”
Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, said inspections decreased to 31,948 in Fiscal Year 2016 from 35,820 in FY 2015 because there were about 200 fewer inspectors.
Doug Kalinowski, director of OSHA’s Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs, said OSHA is seeking to finalize improvements to the Voluntary Protection Programs in the next year, adding that resources remain a challenge for VPP. He also touted the benefit of the agency’s On-site Consultation Program, noting that 3.6 million workers were removed from hazards in FY 2016.
Dean McKenzie, director of OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, said the new crane operator certification rules might get finalized before the end of the year.
Anthony Rosa, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs, said his department has reviewed new initiatives such as an outreach plan and an updated whistleblower manual.