This week, OSHA released its final rule on cranes and derricks in construction. There are some fall protection provisions in the rule, but there’s more focus on inspection, operator certification and electrical hazards. Significantly, one part of the rule shows how outdated OSHA’s construction standards still remain. It adds a new section 1926.6, listing voluntary standards incorporated by reference in the OSHA construction standards. The includes references to ANSI Z87.1-1968 for eye and face protection (the current version is 2010), ANSI Z89.1-1969 for head protection (current version is 2009) and ANSI Z89.2-1971 for “protective helmets for electrical workers,” which hasn’t existed since the electrical protective requirements were added to Z89.1 in 1981.
OSHA has done a better job updating references to these consensus standards in its general industry regs. Last year it revised the PPE standards at 29 CFR 1910.132 to incorporate the last three editions of consensus standards for safety eyewear, hard hats and safety footwear. Similar revisions were made to PPE standards for shipyards (part 1915), marine terminals (part 1917) and longshoring (part 1918). Most significantly, the agency declared in its Federal Register notice that it will streamline the process for making future revisions, using direct-final rules or other appropriate methods to add a new standards and delete outdated editions.
This process may seem cumbersome, and people frequently ask why OSHA can’t just accept the latest edition of any voluntary standard that it incorporates by reference. Good idea, but it can’t be done. Because consensus standards are developed outside of government, accepting the latest edition, without going through a notice-and-comment relemaking, would be delegating rulemaking authority to a non-government body.
ISEA is working with OSHA now to incorporate references to the current editions of the head protection (ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2009) and eye and face protection (ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010) standards. While we’re at it, we will continue to press the agency to take similar steps to bring its construction standards up to date. Find more information on these standards on ISEA’s Web site.