New Rules Loom In New Year

As reported last month, a significant issue pending is OSHA’s reconciliation of the Hazard Communication Standard with the Global Harmonization System

Bob Eckhardt

As reported last month, a significant issue pending is OSHA’s reconciliation of the Hazard Communication Standard with the Global Harmonization System adopted by the United Nations. Eventually, the modified HazCom standard will include new labeling and MSDS structure requirements based on the current ISO standard. The acronym MSDS will be shortened to SDS.

In 2003, OSHA announced the formation of a Crane and Derrick Negotiated Rulemaking Committee to propose a new construction safety standard for cranes and derricks. The new standard may revise existing portions of 1926.550.

Additionally, OSHA has advocated a confined space entry standard for construction. A proposal is expected, consistent with the existing confined space entry program for general industry found in 1910.146.

More stringent Miner Act provisions proposed by the Mine Safety and Health Administration would increase the maximum penalty for repeat violations from $60,000 to $220,000. Tougher criminal penalties would be stipulated.


To coordinate and maintain compliance with multiple regulations, an annual review checklist can be helpful. Since today’s work crews are typically well trained in the inspection routine, most equipment is examined on a regular basis during daily use. Nevertheless, a thorough safety and environmental manager will assure documentation is available for relevant checklist items. Sooner or later, in the course of incident litigation or an OSHA inspection, locating and providing appropriate records will be necessary. Often, inspection documentation provides key proof that a site safety program has been correctly implemented. Conversely, a lack of documentation could be interpreted as evidence of a substandard program, though inspections may have been adequately performed. A downloadable checklist is available at


Massachusetts concrete block and landscape unit plant workers can benefit from a new alliance among the OSHA Region 1 (Boston) officials, New England Concrete Masonry Association (NECMA) and the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety’s Consultation Program (MDOS-CP). Announced by Region 1 staff in mid-December, the alliance seeks to reduce or prevent workers’ exposure to silica dust, high noise levels, electrical and confined space hazards, and being struck by large concrete blocks.

Under the alliance, OSHA, NECMA and MDOS-CP will develop training and education programs for NECMA members and others, including presentation of OSHA’s 10-hour construction safety course. The alliance will promote NECMA members’ participation in OSHA’s cooperative programs and encourage them to work with the agency’s regional and area offices to address occupational hazards.

The foundation of occupational safety is knowledge, says Marthe Kent, OSHA’s regional administrator for New England. Our goal is to equip industry workers with the information and ability to identify and correct hazards before they cause injury or illness.

Signing the alliance were OSHA Massachusetts Area Directors Brenda Gordon, Francis Pagliuca and Mary Hoye; NECMA Executive Director David Dimmick; and MDOS-CP Commissioner Robert Prezioso.