NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and no longer represents OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

Priority Planning Process

Action: Working together with stakeholders, OSHA has undertaken a systematic effort to identify about twenty of the leading causes of workplace injury, illness and death as high priority hazards for focused attention and coordinated action. Some of these will be scheduled for rulemaking, but the majority will be addressed through workplans developed following consultation with labor and industry. OSHA and its stakeholders will undertake national campaigns to reduce worker exposure to these important dangers.

Description: Beginning in August, 1994 OSHA, together with National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and other DOL agencies, solicited input from stakeholders about the most critical workplace hazards deserving national attention. Through mailings, a Federal Register Notice, and a series of scoping meetings OSHA received more than 100 written comments and the direct participation of nearly 200 representatives of labor, industry, professional and academic organizations, State government, and the general public. OSHA and its Priority Planning Committee also received recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health.

There were over 200 suggestions for top workplace hazards affecting millions of workers in a wide variety of industries. A set of decision criteria was used to guide the review including: seriousness of the hazard, number of workers exposed or magnitude of risk, quality of available information, potential for risk reduction, feasibility and other public policy considerations (i.e., intensity of public concern). OSHA expects to identify approximately 20 hazards for priority action through a combination of rulemaking and non-rulemaking actions.

While final priorities have not been selected, some of the leading candidates still under consideration include workplace violence, occupational asthma, reproductive hazards, metalworking fluids, asphalt fumes, commercial diving, welding hazards, motor vehicle accidents, crystalline silica, oil and gas well drilling, synthetic mineral fibers, solvents, diesel exhaust, hazardous medications, and crane safety. OSHA will convene work groups together with business and labor to establish action plans for each of the final priorities.

During the priority discussions there were two general themes (in addition to comments about specific hazards) that were expressed clearly and consistently by representatives of business, labor, state government, and the professional community. First, OSHA was cautioned not to let new priorities deflect its attention and resources away from critical activities already in progress, particularly promotion of safety and health programs, recordkeeping simplification, and addressing ergonomics issues, all of which were considered essential building blocks for future agency activity. Second, OSHA was urged repeatedly not to overload its regulatory calendar with numerous new rulemaking initiatives, but rather to use a variety of creative, non-rulemaking tools to stimulate the private sector to reduce worker exposures to many of the priority hazards.

Implementation Plan: Action Plans for at least 6 of the priority issues will be completed by the end of Fiscal Year 1995.

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and no longer represents OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.