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Before OSHA can publish a proposed or final regulation, the agency must first submit the rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. Many of the items listed in OSHA’s Spring 2022 agenda (published June 22) showed expected dates of publication by the end of 2022. However, as of November 21, 2022, most have not yet been sent to OMB.

Once submitted, the OMB review process can take 60 to 90 days. Once approved, OSHA can arrange to publish the rule (whether proposed or final) in the Federal Register. If the rule is final, OSHA typically provides at least 30 days for employers to come into compliance (longer if the changes are complicated).

Currently, the only rule awaiting OMB review is the proposal to revise the construction regulation to require personal protective equipment (PPE) that fits employees. It was sent for OMB review on September 7 so the review should be completed by early December.

Here are a few rules that OSHA said were pending or coming in late 2022, but will be delayed since none have yet been sent to OMB.

  • Stair railing clarifications. OSHA published a proposed rule in May of 2021 to expand the grandfather clause for combination stair-rails/hand-rails. The walking-working surface revisions in 2016 allowed combination railings (a single existing rail serving as both a hand rail and fall protection) from 36 to 38 inches. The proposal would have expanded that range to allow combination railings at 30 to 38 inches high. OSHA expected to re-open the rulemaking in October 2022, likely with a revision to the May proposal. With nothing yet at OMB, employers should not expect a new proposed change before February.
  • Tree care standard. OSHA announced an intent to publish a proposed rule on tree care operations in December 2022. Since nothing has yet been submitted to OMB, this proposed rule is unlikely to appear soon.
  • COVID rule for healthcare employers. OSHA intended to publish a final rule in September 2022 that would extend certain provisions of the Emergency Temporary Standard on COVID-19 for healthcare employers. Since a final rule has not yet been sent to OMB as of November, this final rule will also be delayed.
  • Hazard Communication update to GHS7. OSHA planned to update the HazCom standard to better align with version 7 of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). A final rule was expected in December 2022, but no final rule has yet been submitted to OMB for review, so employers should expect a few additional months before it appears.

At the start of the last fiscal year, OSHA received a modest budget increase and wanted to focus on a few priorities. Those included the COVID-19 rule for healthcare, plus a new standard on heat stress and one on violence in healthcare and social assistance. Those last two initiatives are still in the early development stages, and proposed rules are likely more than a year away.

Key to remember: The semi-annual regulatory agenda comes out twice per year in the spring and fall. It provides anticipated publication dates for proposed and final rules, but actual publication is often beyond the listed times.