Inside OSHA

August 18, 2022

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OSHA finalized a “complete overhaul” of its handbook for investigating whistleblower retaliation complaints, incorporating a long list of previously separate guidance into the core manual and setting new procedural requirements for various steps of the process, triggering a mandate for state plans to adopt their own version of the new document.

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The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has scheduled a series of workshops that will seek in part to address industry concerns over differences in how EPA’s occupational risk analyses under TSCA differ from practices at agencies like OSHA or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and those of industrial hygienists.

South Carolina is asking a federal district court to block what it says is an unlawful campaign by OSHA to require states to increase their maximum work-safety penalties to at least the federal maximum, claiming that the agency is going far beyond what Congress allowed under the OSH Act mandate for state plans to be “at least as effective” as its program.

California’s plan to list nail products containing toluene as a “priority product” under its green chemistry program is drawing fire from labor and health groups, who charge its use of an industry-backed “alternatives analysis threshold” (AAT) will expose too many salon employees to unsafe levels of the chemical.

OSHA is seeking a massive $1.2 million penalty from the discount retail chain Family Dollar over alleged violations at two Ohio stores that the agency says are the latest in “a long and disturbing history” of similar safety hazards at the company’s facilities, underscoring the Biden administration’s efforts to step up the agency’s enforcement program.

OSHA is seeking $110,630 in penalties for an ammonia leak at a Georgia poultry plant that the agency says hospitalized two workers and forced dozens more to evacuate, as the agency prepares to pursue an update to the process safety management (PSM) standard at the heart of the case, in parallel with EPA’s reforms to its own facility-safety rule.

Oil sector groups are joining industry attacks on EPA’s decision to drop an assumption that workers will use personal protective equipment (PPE) from Trump-era TSCA evaluations, echoing claims that the new policy is unlawful and irrational while also asserting it is impossible to fit with the existing risk reviews and requires a new, multi-year process.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has provisionally selected the panel that will peer review the Biden administration’s draft assessment of the risks of workplace and other exposures to formaldehyde, despite calls from GOP lawmakers who had sought additional scrutiny on whether the panel selection process and staff are impartial.

Two groups representing employers and industry are laying out detailed objections to California OSHA’s (Cal/OSHA) proposed workplace violence standard for “all industries,” including over a perceived lack of input from law enforcement, incident-logging requirements, employee privacy, enforcement and definitions of key terms -- including violence.

OSHA is seeking nominees to fill four seats on its National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) that are slated to become vacant in January, just as the panel is ramping up its work to provide the agency with advice on a heat danger standard long sought by labor advocates and Democrats.

 

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