Last week, OSHA withdrew a proposed rule to amend the agency's regulations for its On-site Consultation Program, a federally funded program that offers free and confidential health and safety advice to small- and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. The agency announced that the withdrawal of the rule is based on stakeholder concerns that the proposed changes might discourage employers from participating in the program.
According to the Federal Register notice, the proposed changes to the regulations for the program dealt with the following issues:
the types of high-priority federal enforcement inspections that could interrupt an ongoing consultation visit
the circumstances under which OSHA may conduct a high-priority enforcement visit at a workplace that has either achieved Safety and Health Recognition Program (SHARP) recognition or is working towards it
the length of time an employer that has qualified for SHARP may be exempted from OSHA's Programmed Inspection Schedule
The notice of proposed rulemaking was published on Sept. 3, 2010. In the 89 comments OSHA received during the 60-day comment period, stakeholders also expressed concerns that the changes would increase OSHA enforcement activities at work sites that have already demonstrated excellence in their safety and health management systems. Others thought that OSHA was trying to eliminate exemptions entirely or take incentives away.
"OSHA did not intend any of these results," the Federal Register notice reads. "If the small changes OSHA proposed could have the effect of discouraging participation in the programs, the Agency does not believe it is worth amending the rule."
Read more in OSHA's press release.