OSHA Issues Proposal for Emergency Response Workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a rule on Feb. 5 to update existing regulations for firefighters and other emergency responders. This rule could impact rural grain handling facilities as many of them depend on volunteer services as first responders and their employees often participate in the volunteer units.

OSHA says the focus of the proposed rule is to provide workplace protections for workers who respond to emergencies as part of their regularly assigned duties and would expand the scope of protected workers to include emergency medical service and technical search and rescue.

The proposed rule would replace OSHA’s existing Fire Brigades standard and would require written emergency response plans, hazard vulnerability assessments, training, personal protective equipment, medical screening and behavioral health services, and other requirements. Further, the proposal would incorporate several voluntary consensus standards from the National Fire Protection Association. One problem is that the drafters of such so-called “voluntary” standards do not calculate their economic burdens.

NGFA participated in the proposed rule’s Small Business Advocacy Review panel in 2021 to emphasize that it would place an undue regulatory burden on grain handling facilities in both costs and additional paperwork. Some examples include: 1) additional paperwork burdens related to pre-incident planning;2) responder preparedness e.g., training and certification and facility; and 3) equipment preparedness, to name a few.

Comments on OSHA’s proposed Emergency Response rule are due by May 6.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov/emergency-response.