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New, Revised and Proposed OSHA Standards

After not seeing many changes in the Occupational Safety and Health Standards and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Standards, employers are recently seeing a number of new or revised standards. In addition, new standards are currently being proposed.

New Respiratory Protection Standard

Employers that have not already revised their respiratory protection programs to comply with the new federal Respiratory Protection Standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, should start reviewing their respiratory protection program. In April of 1998, a new federal Respiratory Protection Standard became effective. The new federal Standard applies to general industry, shipyards, marine terminals, longshoring and construction.

The new federal Standard clarifies responsibility for administering a respiratory protection program. It also provides specific guidance on respirator selection, use, hazard evaluation, medical evaluations, fit testing and training. To assist employers with complying with the new federal Standard, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a compliance directive, CPL 2-0.120.

Michigan has decided to adopt the new federal Standard verbatim. It is anticipated that the new Michigan Respiratory Protection Standard will go into effect on April 21, 1999.

New Powered Industrial Truck Training Requirements In December of 1998, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration published new training standards for employees who operate powered industrial trucks. The new training standards became effective March 1, 1999. The new training standards apply to employers with powered industrial trucks in general industry, construction and maritime.

The new training standards require a training program based on the individual.s prior knowledge and skill, the powered industrial trucks used in the workplace, and the particular hazards present in the workplace. The training program also must demonstrate the individual.s ability to safely operate a powered industrial truck. This training is required as part of the initial training, refresher training and at least once every three years.

Michigan has not yet begun the rulemaking process to change the training requirements in its powered industrial truck standard.

Ergonomics Standard May Become A Reality

In February, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (.OSHA.) published a draft proposal for repetitive motion injuries that occur in the workplace. The proposal identifies the following elements for an ergonomics program: management leadership and employee participation, hazard identification and information, job hazard analysis and control, employee training, medical management and program evaluation.

The proposal would apply to manufacturing and manual handling operations which would automatically have to comply with the first two elements of the program. Other businesses would not be covered under the proposal until an injury or risk was reported for a certain job. The proposal would then require that the business implement all of the program elements. OSHA hopes to publish its proposal in the Federal Register in September of 1999 and publish a final rule in the year 2000.

Karen J. VanderWerff is an associate specializing in labor and employment law with Warner Norcross & Judd LLP. Warner Norcross & Judd is a full-service law firm with offices in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Holland and Southfield. Karen may be reached in the Grand Rapids office at 616-752-2183

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