A Plea to the President

barack-obamaNow that President Obama is firmly rooted in a second term, there is no time to waste in making good on unfinished business. For those of us in the occupational safety industry, the acceptance of proposed OSHA general industry fall protection regulations is of primary importance.

The last time OSHA updated these regulations Richard Nixon was president. I am continuously confronted by how outdated these rules are. At LJB, we work hard to explain the limitations of fall protection PPE to our clients, even though harnesses and lanyards aren’t even protection options according to the current OSHA rules.

A former deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA recently authored an article imploring the President to address these obsolete regulations. The article recognizes that OSHA ramped up its enforcement efforts during the last four years, but questions the effectiveness of enforcing outdated rules: “It’s not hard to find references to equipment that is no longer used, and procedures that are no longer relevant.”

I second the author’s plea for the President to adopt the model that many other nations use. Allow the technical details of the regulations to be determined by voluntary standards organizations—like the American National Standards Institute—which ensure that standards are developed by varying stakeholders and are reaffirmed every five years.

The author sums up why these updates are so important: “Bringing outdated OSHA regulations into the 21st century would protect workers and help employers better understand what is expected of them.”

I ask that you consider the following two actions.  First, contact your representative in Congress to support the proposed OSHA regulations.  Second, incorporate more current guidance from the ANSI Z359 family of fall protection standards into your fall hazard program.

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