Inside OSHA

June 6, 2023


EPA is poised to propose its TSCA rule governing the solvent perchloroethylene (PCE or perc) after a draft version cleared White House review on June 1, an action that comes less than two months after the agency released its methylene chloride plan and could show how broadly it intends to apply that rule’s strict approach to worker protections.

Latest News

Andy Levinson, head of OSHA’s directorate of standards and guidance, told a May 31 National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) meeting that the agency is “on the cusp” of initiating a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) consultation for its nationwide heat standard, just hours before the panel approved its own recommendations on the rulemaking.

California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) officials are facing pressure from labor unions, worker-safety advocates and some of the agency’s standards board members to tighten proposed first-time employee-safety rules for heat illness prevention at indoor worksites, primarily by lowering the temperature thresholds that trigger several worker-protection requirements.

Officials with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) say EPA failed to fully consider either less-burdensome alternatives to its proposed rule aimed at protecting workers from the toxic solvent methylene chloride or the true economic costs of a widespread phaseout, including the range of employers that could be forced to under a total ban.

A federal district court has approved a consent decree in a quiet, years-long trademark dispute between OSHA and an Illinois training and consulting company called “Global Occupational Health and Safety Academy,” or Global OSHA -- barring the firm from using what the agency alleged is a deceptively similar name to its own.

OSHA is asking a federal district court to dismiss South Carolina’s latest challenge to the agency’s yet-unenforced requirement for states to raise their maximum penalties for workplace health and safety violations to match federal levels, saying the case was filed too late and fails to show any harm from the policy, among other flaws.

OSHA is rejecting construction-sector criticism of its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on heat-related illness that said the initiative risks creating unclear mandates worker protection, with the agency arguing that its initiative merely seeks to enforce the OSH Act’s general duty clause (GDC) and vowing to continue providing compliance assistance to employers.

Public-health groups are renewing litigation seeking to revive OSHA’s Obama-era electronic reporting rule even as a final rule expected to reinstate many or all of its requirements is awaiting White House approval, arguing that a federal court should scrap the 2018 rollback of those mandates immediately as their absence is causing ongoing harm.

OSHA is seeking stakeholder feedback on “leading indicators” that can help workers and regulatory identify potential hazards before an injury or other incident, such as low workplace training rates or infrequent equipment maintenance, as it prepares to develop a resource for tracking those factors.

Industry attorneys are questioning OSHA’s plan to soon issue an interim final rule (IFR) that the agency says will provide “clarity” on its use of subpoenas but which one attorney says may include major changes to the process without a notice and comment period.