On October 4, OSHA proposed eighteen revisions to its recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction standards. The proposal is lengthy, comprising 182 pages, and are intended to remove or revise “outdated, duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent requirements” in its safety and health standards. This is the fourth in a series of similar OSHA rulemakings, all based on Executive Order 13563 “Improving Regulations and Regulatory Review.” OSHA is accepting public comment on the proposal until December 5. Two of the eighteen proposals will affect funeral service: the Lockout/Tagout Standard and the removal of employee social security numbers from the Formaldehyde Standard.
The Lockout/Tagout Standard establishes requirements for the control of hazardous energy, meaning electrical, pneumatic, mechanical, hydraulic, chemical or thermal energy. The standard applies when equipment is serviced or maintained. Workers who service equipment without preventing the discharge of hazardous energy can suffer serious injury, such as electrocution, burns, amputations, lacerations, bone fractures, or crushing injuries. OSHA has proposed removal of the term “unexpected” from the standard to confirm that the standard covers all equipment servicing activities in which there are energization, startup, or stored energy hazards. This change is intended to make clear that lockout/tagout applies to all equipment even if it the equipment may have a warning system with various procedures or time delays, before startup. The lockout/tagout standard applies to cremators. If the standard is changed, as OSHA has proposed, cremator operators will need to assure that they have a lockout/tagout program that complies with the updated standard. This standard is discussed in NFDA’s Guide to Selected OSHA Standards for Funeral Homes & Crematories (Chapter 17).
OSHA also has proposed to remove the requirement that employers include an employee’s social security number (SSN) on paperwork pertaining to exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, and other records in order to protect employee privacy and prevent identity fraud. Among the standards that would be affected by this change is the Formaldehyde Standard, which provides for exposure measurement, medical surveillance and respirator fit. OSHA also has asked for comment on how to handle existing records that bear employee SSNs. Should this proposal be accepted in the final rule, funeral directors that keep such records will have to change their forms to remove SSN and possibly excise SSN from older forms.
Another OSHA proposal, which would change a construction standard, could potentially impact cemetery owners and operators, but an evaluation would be needed to determine if these construction standards are applicable to cemetery activities. OSHA proposes to impose a burden for specific excavation requirements on employers, rather than on OSHA, so that the employer would need to show that the way in which excavation is conducted does not pose hazard for employees. The proposal would require employers to protect their employees from loose rock, soil and other materials or equipment that could fall or roll into an excavated area.
NFDA will keep you apprised on the status of these proposals as OSHA proceeds with its review process.