Inside OSHA

May 21, 2024

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California lawmakers have approved a statewide audit of California OSHA’s (Cal/OSHA) inspection and enforcement processes, amid criticism that the “understaffed” agency is failing to adequately protect agriculture and other workers from on-the-job dangers and fails to properly cite and collect fines from violators.

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OSHA used a recent meeting with its advisory panel on construction issues to preview the “structure” of its impending heat illness and injury prevention standard, highlighting how it plans to identify heat hazards in the rule, set triggers for action, and require emergency response planning and heat condition monitoring, among other elements.

A former Trump administration official is warning that EPA’s latest reworking of how it sets existing chemical exposure limits (ECELs) under TSCA could be legally flawed, saying he does not believe the law “allows” the agency to craft stringent occupational exposure levels during risk evaluations but loosen the mandates in rulemaking.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) is calling on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to expand its call for data on firefighters’ exposures to wildfire smoke, pointing to research needs on the effects of those exposures, while urging both NIOSH and OSHA to craft clearer guidance for employers.

OSHA and an Ohio contracting firm are sparring over whether the Supreme Court should let stand an appellate ruling that upheld OSH Act provisions empowering the agency to craft safety standards under the nondelegation doctrine, including a new test the employer is floating that would block Congress from giving agencies discretion to address “major questions” in rulemaking.

A coalition of Republican officials from 14 states has formally challenged EPA’s controversial update to the risk management program (RMP), signaling that they will argue the new rule’s mandate for facilities to assess and adopt “safer” technologies carries no clear benefits that would justify its compliance costs.

OSHA is reworking the borders between several of its regions and abandoning the long-standing numbered designations for those offices, saying the changes will help it “direct its resources effectively and make the agency more resilient” in part by prioritizing states that lack delegated authority to implement the OSH Act.

The federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is sending litigation over the Biden administration’s landmark TSCA rule phasing out uses of chrysotile asbestos to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit -- the same court that overturned the agency’s first attempt to ban asbestos more than 30 years ago when it drastically narrowed EPA’s authority to regulate existing chemicals.

EPA’s industry and Republican critics are warning of a wave of imminent litigation challenging the agency’s recently finalized risk management program (RMP) rule updates and seeking to block it from taking effect later this week, charging it exceeds the agency’s authority and places unnecessary burdens on covered facilities.

Employer attorneys are stepping up efforts to prepare companies for the July 1 compliance deadline of California’s landmark, multi-layered workplace violence-prevention rules, while more broadly warning that other states will likely adopt similar standards based on the new policy.

 

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