Inside OSHA

May 27, 2024

Editor's Note

EDITOR'S NOTE:  There will be no updates posted May 27 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.

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California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) has renewed its emergency temporary standard (ETS) for crystalline silica exposure in “engineered stone fabrication shops,” and state lawmakers are advancing a bill that would establish even more stringent worker-protection rules for the sector, underscoring the escalating concern over dangers facing its workers.

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Worksafe, a California-based employee-advocacy group that often weighs in on workplace safety issues, has filed what appears to be the first formal lawsuit over EPA’s final overhaul of the TSCA “framework” for risk evaluations of existing chemicals, underlining the focus unions and worker advocates are placing on the agency’s chemical-safety program.

The United Steelworkers (USW) is signaling that it will seek to formally defend elements of EPA’s TSCA chrysotile asbestos rule that industry groups are seeking to loosen or overturn, in one of the first substantive moves of what could be a precedent-setting legal battle over the landmark regulation.

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.

OSHA has released its final rule updating the hazard communication standard (HCS) that governs safety labels for toxic, flammable and otherwise dangerous chemicals, including a redone version of its requirement to address hazards posed by chemicals’ downstream uses after employers argued that the original language would impose massive new burdens on them.

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.

 

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