by Webb Shaw, Wisconsin Chapter and Government Information Division
In a sense, folks at a publisher like J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.®, specializing in regulatory and compliance information, have always been Future Ready – or at least future-oriented. We’re always looking ahead for the next relevant regulation to be published in the Federal Register.
But of course, it’s not that simple. Not only do we need to know the regulatory agendas for the agencies we cover, we must understand the impact a given regulation or law will have on our customers. Then we need the right delivery methods to provide the information that will help them deal with it, and that usually involves technology. For us, Future Readiness requires the best efforts of both compliance wonks and content-technology geeks.
There’s no shortage of important regulations in the U.S. federal agency pipeline. And if you think your organization doesn’t need to worry about regs, think again. Many requirements, including Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and wage and hour laws, cover all employees – even if only one person is on the payroll. When new regulations are promulgated (OSHA alone issued eight final rules and 21 proposed rules last year), info pros have the opportunity to help their organizations be proactive in managing risk and potential costs. In other words, to be the hero!
For example, OSHA is expected to issue later this year a final rule that will change the U.S. Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the U.N.’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The new rule will require many changes in the ways employers classify and label chemicals, and in how information is disseminated to employees regarding chemical hazards and associated protective measures. (You might be more familiar with the HCS than you realize – it’s the regulation that requires Material Safety Data Sheets and those multi-colored labels on chemical containers of all sizes.)
Even more far-reaching, the Department of Labor’s Plan/Prevent/Protect (P3) initiative is based on the notion that employers must “find and fix” violations, rather than relying on agency inspectors to catch compliance issues. OSHA’s injury and illness prevention programs (I2P2) rule is considered the prototype for P3. Under I2P2, which is expected to be published in proposed form in 2012, employers would have to find and fix safety hazards unique to their workplaces, including hazards not covered by any other OSHA standard. This is expected to result in much more employee involvement in enforcing safety compliance.
Other potential changes advancing under the P3 banner include requirements for employers regarding the status of independent contractors, the status of exempt (vs. hourly) employees, Affirmative Action Plans – and recordkeeping for all three.
Understanding the precise impact these regulations may have on the businesses that rely on J. J. Keller’s information involves many factors, including our customers’ size (employees) and industry type, as well as how actively the agencies are likely to enforce the regulations.
Being prepared to deliver the information in the most effective ways requires an understanding of – and investment in – technology. For decades, J. J. Keller has used technology to continuously improve our ability to find, acquire, manage and distribute content. Advances in the latter two capabilities have been particularly important in making the company Future Ready.
Webb Shaw is Director of Editorial Resources at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.®, a leading provider of risk and regulatory management and information solutions. To learn more, go to www.jjkeller.com/infopros.