Inside OSHA

August 3, 2021

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The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) has struck down OSHA’s citation against a New Jersey construction company for a 2017 accident that the agency claimed violated lockout/tagout requirements in its construction safety standard, taking a narrow view of the “maintenance” work that triggers those provisions.

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The House has passed, largely along party lines, a sweeping fiscal year 2022 spending bill that includes a $100 million budget increase for OSHA, setting the stage for Democrats to seek common ground with Senate Republicans on a bill that can clear the filibuster before current funding levels expire at the end of September.

Republican senators at a July 29 hearing suggested President Joe Biden’s three nominees to the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) appear to lack the qualifications to investigate chemical industrial accidents, echoing industry concerns that they have no specific experience in the field and potentially foreshadowing a confirmation battle.

OSHA is asking stakeholders to weigh in on a host of issues it says will inform the first-ever update to its 1971 safety standard for mechanical power presses, including whether to expand the rule to cover currently-excluded hydraulic and pneumatic presses, and whether to use an industry consensus standard as a basis for the revision.

The waste management industry is cautioning EPA on its plans to make environmental justice (EJ) a key focus in expected revisions to a Trump-era chemical facility safety rule, warning that if the agency expands the rule to incorporate EJ considerations, then it must find a balance to ease burdens on businesses.

Labor unions intend to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to order OSHA to expand its healthcare-specific COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) to either all employers or specifically to the meatpacking and food-processing sectors, according to a new court filing.

Incoming OSHA chief Doug Parker could seek to tighten the agency’s COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) following his expected confirmation, an employer attorney said during a July 22 webinar, based on his record of strict regulation as California’s top safety official and the spike in infections due to the virus’s “Delta” variant.

OSHA has broadened the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector’s waiver from the agency’s process safety management (PSM) standard, holding that the rule does not apply to facilities subject to Transportation Department (DOT) pipeline safety rules while also revoking a narrower Clinton-era policy that exempted only “fire and explosion” dangers.

White House officials have completed their review of OSHA’s long-delayed request for information designed to shape its first-ever update to the safety standard for mechanical power presses -- a rule that dates to 1971, and which the agency sought unsuccessfully to rework during the George W. Bush administration.

An environmental group is urging EPA to tighten worker protections in a slate of proposed rules governing “significant” new uses of 32 chemicals, claiming they fall short of Trump-era enforcement orders and must be reworked to follow the hierarchy of controls (HOC) rather than focusing on protective gear.

 

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