Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Get Ready, Employers --- New Workplace Safety Rules Are On the Way

The U.S. Labor Department is working up some new workplace safety rules. 

DOL isn't saying much yet, but here's a small glimpse into what it's likely to propose later this year:

* New rules to limit employee exposure to diacetyl, a popcorn flavoring that can make workers at popcorn production plants sick. (Gee, and I thought microwavable popcorn was just fattening.) Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is convening a rulemaking panel on May 5th to start developing the new rules;

* New standards around combustible dust particles;

* And the biggie: A new OSHA program called the Severe Violators Inspection Program to crack down on companies that aren't serious about workplace safety.

It's no secret that enforcement of OSHA rules took a big hit under the Bush Administration, and the Department of Labor under Labor Secretary Hilda Solis isn't wasting any time renewing enforcement: It sent letters earlier this month to 13,500 employers with illness and injury rates twice the national average, and OSHA citations against employers are on the rise.

The DOL will be a big newsmaker later this year.

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