U.S. Government Affairs

  • 1.  OSHA expands protections for emergency workers with proposed "Emergency Response" standard

    Posted 01-09-2024 14:12

    Have any IAEM members looked into this for impacts to emergency management? This appears to be relevant to those emergency managers responsible for institutional emergency action plans and response teams. I'd like to know if there's something that the association should be taking action on when the ability to submit comments opens up.

    OSHA expands protections for emergency workers with proposed "Emergency Response" standard

    Emergency response workers in America face considerable occupational health and safety hazards in dynamic and unpredictable work environments. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recognized the need for a comprehensive, up-to-date emergency response standard to address the full range of job hazards faced by today's emergency responders.

    On Dec. 21, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that OSHA will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking later this month to modernize the agency's "Fire Brigades" standard (29 CFR 1910.156), which has only had minor updates since it was first published in 1980.

    The Fire Brigades standard currently applies to a narrow audience of workers, namely, fire brigades, industrial fire departments and private or contractual fire departments. This standard was originally intended to be used by employers who have a subset of employees assigned to fight fire in the early stages while waiting for their jurisdiction's fire department to arrive on scene. These employees do not necessarily perform emergency response functions as part of their regular, everyday jobs.

    OSHA intends to use the "Fire Brigades" standard as a baseline for a significant update to OSHA 1910.156, which would be re-titled, "Emergency Response". The new standard would apply to a much broader audience of emergency workers and would address a much broader range of occupational hazards.

    OSHA has just published an unofficial draft of the proposed rule for review. OSHA's proposed rule would update 29 CFR 1910.156 so that it applies to firefighters (both structural and wildland), emergency medical service providers, and technical search and rescue workers. OSHA estimates that about 1 million emergency response workers would fall into the scope of the proposed rule. While OSHA standards apply only to employees and therefore do not apply to most volunteer responders, volunteers may be treated as employees under some states' laws. OSHA estimates that about 300,000 volunteer responders would fall within the scope of this proposed rule.

    Notably, OSHA's proposed standard would bring OSHA 1910.156 into alignment with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) National Response Framework and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). It would modernize the standard to align with the current industry consensus standards issued by the National Fire Protection Association on the safe conduct of emergency response activities. The proposal includes major changes for protective clothing and equipment and significant improvements in safety and health practices that the industry generally accepts as standard procedures.

    OSHA notes that the proposed rule is a "performance-based" standard, providing flexibility for affected employers to establish the specific criteria that best suits their organization. OSHA intends the performance-based nature of the proposed rule to be beneficial to small and volunteer organizations with limited resources.

    OSHA has established a dedicated web page for the Emergency Response Ruling where the link to the official draft in the Federal Register and instructions for submitting comments will be made available in the coming weeks. OSHA may schedule an informal public hearing on the proposed rule if requested during the comment period.

    (Source: OSHA)



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    Justin Kates
    Senior Business Continuity Advisor
    Wawa, Inc.
    Lewes DE
    (603) 722-0288
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  • 2.  RE: OSHA expands protections for emergency workers with proposed "Emergency Response" standard

    Posted 01-10-2024 05:24

    Thanks for posting this Justin. I do believe this could impact our membership. I think about companies and universities that have their own EMT programs, or firms or government agencies that perform response work like oil spill teams. They vaguely address their definition so far of Emergency Response so this would be interesting to track and comment.



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    Christa Lopez
    Senior Advisor
    CTEH
    Wilmington NC
    4092707680
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  • 3.  RE: OSHA expands protections for emergency workers with proposed "Emergency Response" standard

    Posted 01-10-2024 09:47

    I definitely think this is worth looking into as an association. I'm a huge proponent for improving and aligning safety requirements. 

    My question would be, and something we may need to address in any position we take, is will this result in any associated costs (for additional/recurrent training, PPE, assessments, etc) in order to meet the standard. That might need to be folded into our continued call to increase funding for several grant programs. 



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    Travis Cryan
    Vice Chair, IAEM-USA Government Affairs Committee
    Washington DC
    (704) 584-9450
    travis@TLCCHelps.com
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  • 4.  RE: OSHA expands protections for emergency workers with proposed "Emergency Response" standard

    Posted 01-12-2024 19:20

    I would love to see some analysis whether or not an Emergency Management Duty Officer program would fall under the rule.  We have a field response component to our Duty Officer program and the individual acts as a liaison for the incident/unified command to the EOC or acts on behalf of a non-activated EOC (Type IV Activation).  We do issue protective equipment including fire brush gear and if any further standard were to be applied to a program like ours it could cause an additional training and equipment expense.  



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    Mary Jo Flynn-Nevins
    Chief of Emergency Services
    Sacramento County OES
    McClellan CA
    (916) 874-4671
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  • 5.  RE: OSHA expands protections for emergency workers with proposed "Emergency Response" standard

    Posted 25 days ago

    During our briefing at the Senate yesterday, one of the staffers asked about our position on this standard, particularly in relation to the proposed Workplace Emergency Response Teams included in it.

    US Fire Administration partnered with OSHA to conduct a webinar on the revised standard: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/blog/usfa-and-osha-presentation-on-the-emergency-response-notice-of-proposed-ruling/

    Are there any IAEM Government Affairs Committee members that could take a deep dive into the proposed language and help us ensure the emergency management perspective is included? They will be doing a public hearing in the future and are already allowing written comments:

    The Emergency Response proposed rule has been published in the Federal Register and is now available for viewing.

    OSHA welcomes and encourages the submission of public comments in response to this proposed rule. The comment period ends on May 6, 2024.

    Comments can be submitted to the Emergency Response Docket at https://www.regulations.gov/docket/OSHA-2007-0073



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    Justin Kates
    Senior Business Continuity Advisor
    Wawa, Inc.
    Lewes DE
    (603) 722-0288
    ------------------------------