Larry Halprin Quoted in Article About OMB Clearing Final SIP Rule

Date: Apr 18, 2019

Keller and Heckman partner Lawrence P. Halprin was quoted in an article in Inside OSHA (subscription required) regarding The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completing a review of the final Standards Improvement Project (SIP) IV rule, one of a series of non-controversial changes to OSHA rules, according to OMB’s website.  The final rule will remove or revise duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent safety and health standards. The measure is not expected to include an Obama-era plan to expand when OSHA’s safety standard applies to power equipment that is shut off for repairs.

In October of 2016 the Obama administration proposed a version of the SIP rule that sought to change OSHA’s 1989 Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) Standard that labor groups have argued needs strengthening to protect workers after a federal appeals court decision undermined the standard and complicated OSHA enforcement.  But a plastics industry attorney has said that the Trump administration has likely scrapped the controversial change, noting that it never granted a January 2017 Plastics Industry Association request for a public hearing on that plan.

In an interview last fall, Lawrence Halprin told Inside OSHA, “There's a mandate to provide a hearing if it's requested and there are objections to the proposal,” citing requirements in the Occupational Safety and Health Act and OSHA's procedures for revising existing standards. “The logical conclusion is they read the comment and the hearing request, and since they had decided not to proceed” with the Obama-era revision to the lockout rule and so the agency was not required to hold a hearing.

The apparent withdrawal of the Obama OSHA’s proposed revision to the agency’s lockout standard follows industry comments to OSHA in early 2017 that the agency had failed to show the change was necessary to protect workers, and that a significant revision increasing burdens on industry should not be advanced as part of a SIP rule, which generally purport to clarify standards and reduce burdens.