New regs for Thursday: Poultry inspections, 401(k), construction workers

Thursday's edition of the Federal Register contains new rules for retirement investment plans, poultry slaughter house inspections, relocation expenses for federal employees, and fall protections for construction workers.

Here's what is happening:

Retirement: The Employee Benefits Security Administration is considering new rules for so-called "brokerage windows" that give employees more freedom to select the stocks, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that they invest in for their retirement accounts such as 401(k)s.

But the Employee Benefits Security Administration is considering whether more rules are needed to protect investors from losing their retirement savings with risky trading plans.

"Some plans offer participants access to brokerage windows in addition to, or in place of, specific investment options selected by the plans’ fiduciaries," the agency wrote. "Through these arrangements, plan participants may be able to choose among the full range of investment options available in the investment marketplace."

The public has 90 days to comment.

Poultry inspections: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is moving forward with new rules that would overhaul the nation's poultry inspection system, as the USDA shifts toward a scientific testing method that, it argues, would prevent foodborne illnesses around the country.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the controversial rules late last month, but they will become official Thursday when they are published in the Federal Register, kicking off a 60-day period before they go into effect.

Food and worker safety groups have criticized the rules, because they allow for fewer safety inspectors at poultry slaughter plants.

Relocation: The General Services Administration (GSA) is moving forward with changes to its travel regulations for government employees who are reimbursed for relocation expenses.

The rule will apply to federal workers who relocate after Jan. 1, 2015.

Presidential library: The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is making changes to its rules to incorporate the newly-opened George W. Bush Presidential Library, as well as include the address and contact information for the library on its website.

The rule goes into effect in 30 days.

Construction: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is looking to increase the protections for construction workers in Arizona.

OSHA plans to implement federal regulations to protect construction workers from falling, because it believes Arizona's state rules do not go far enough to protect those workers. OSHA's fall protection rules apply to employees who are working at least six feet above the ground, but Arizona's rules weaken federal standards because they do not go into effect until workers are at least 15 feet above the ground.

The public has 35 days to comment.