Regulatory work is painstakingly slow. It generally takes years – years! – for OSHA to adopt a new safety standard, no matter what its apparent need or urgency. For example:
- It has been 16 years since work began on the still unfinished fall protection standard. In the meantime, 9149 workers have been killed in falls, more than 700 per year.
- OSHA adopted a confined space standard for general industry in 1993 and agreed to develop one for construction as well. Thirteen years later, the best that can be said is that the agency promises a notice of proposed rulemaking this spring.
- Trench collapses are a minor epidemic in construction. Five years ago, OSHA said it would look into an excavation standard. It’s still in the prerule stage.