The new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) budget officially began in October 2018 for Fiscal Year 2019, meaning the new updates are beginning to take effect. Here are some of the major changes for you to be aware of in your workplace:
One of the areas of major reforms for OSHA are the beryllium standards. Beryllium is a chemical element in an alkaline earth metal with cancer-causing properties. The new rule is designed to prevent chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer in workers. Specifically, the standards are for general industry, shipyards and construction.
Currently, more than 60,000 workers are exposed to beryllium on the job every year. This includes both shipyard and construction workers conducting abrasive blasting operations with slags that may contain beryllium in trace amounts. Protecting workers isn’t a new initiative, but the revised rules will save an estimated 90 lives and prevent an additional 46 cases of chronic beryllium disease in a year.
OSHA revised this recordkeeping rule with two major changes, including industries that do not have to keep OSHA updated with their injury and illness records and the list of work-related injuries that must be reported to OSHA.
Exempt industries experience relatively low on-the-job injury and illness and, therefore, aren’t required to submit every case to OSHA. The previous list used information gathered from the Standard Industrial Classification system and illness data gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the years 1996, 1997, and 1998. Now the list is assembled from the North American Industry Classification System and BLS numbers from 2007 to 2009. If a company has 10 or fewer employees, they are exempt regardless of industry.
For work-related injuries that have to be reported to OSHA, the eight-hour window to report fatalities remains with the addition of other incidents that must be reported within 24 hours, including loss of an eye, in-patient hospitalization, and amputations.
Another area receiving revisions are the processes for testing the fit of respiratory equipment. The complete list of general requirements for fit-test protocols can be found on OSHA’s website.
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