Important OSHA Updates for 2020

January is a wonderful time to review your workplace safety policy. But do you know what standards have changed recently? Here’s a list of important OSHA updates for 2020.

The New Beryllium Standard

Beryllium is a steel-grey metal used in high-speed aircraft, missiles, and communication satellites. Beryllium also is highly toxic. Overexposure to beryllium can cause beryllium sensitization, chronic beryllium disease (CBD) and lung cancer. To protect the estimated 62,000 workers exposed to beryllium, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule containing standards for general industry, construction, and shipyards in 2017. However, as of October 2019, OSHA proposed revisions to the beryllium standards to more appropriately protect construction and shipyard workers.

The Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction

Crystalline silica is a common mineral found in construction materials such as sand, stone, concrete, brick, and mortar. Tiny silica dust particles can cause silicosis, lung cancer, potentially debilitating respiratory diseases and kidney disease. From August to October 2019, OSHA issued a Request for Information (RFI) in Table 1 of the current ruling. Specifically, the agency asks for information about other silica-generating construction equipment and tasks that should be added to Table 1, as well as suggestions for better control methods. The results of this study may change future standards.

Using Leading Indicators to Improve Safety and Health Outcomes

In June 2019, OSHA released a new section of its website as well as a downloadable PDF on leading indicators. Most employers are familiar with lagging indicators. Lagging indicators include past events such as a number of injuries or rates of illness. Although lagging indicators alert companies to problems with their safety programs, leading indicators help organizations become more proactive. Leading indicators or predictive measures can determine whether safety activities are truly preventing incidents. OSHA encourages all businesses to use “leading indicators to drive change and lagging indicators to measure effectiveness.”

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