Inside OSHA

December 9, 2022

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Democrats are poised to release their own proposed “omnibus” fiscal year 2023 spending bill for OSHA and other agencies on Dec. 12, signaling a possible impasse in negotiations with Republicans on a deal amid a GOP push to cut non-defense spending following Democrats’ passage of a massive party-line spending bill earlier this year.

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OSHA is touting its latest in a series of enforcement actions against Dollar General over allegations of widespread unsafe conditions, such as faulty emergency exits at the retailer’s stores, even after the agency agreed to drop a court action designed to enforce what it said was an “informal settlement” stemming from an earlier round of citations.

California OSHA’s (Cal/OSHA) standards board is easing requirements in its final proposed update to first-aid kit requirements for general industry and construction firms pertaining to the type of container required, but is maintaining a mandate to check the kits weekly despite employer representatives’ continued opposition.

EPA has submitted its TSCA proposal to regulate use of the solvent methylene chloride to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), setting the stage for what a top toxics official said will be a model for future chemical rules designed to protected both workers and the general public from chemical exposures.

A California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) advisory committee and agency staff are poised to finalize joint recommendations to state lawmakers for policies to protect the health and safety of privately employed household domestic service workers, as well as voluntary guidelines for the sector targeting both workers and employers.

OSHA is opening new rounds of nominations to its advisory committees for worker safety in the maritime and construction sectors ahead of term expirations for the full rosters of both panels this spring, as the agency is also preparing to fill four spots on its influential National Advisory Committee on Safety and Health (NACOSH).

OSHA is urging a federal appeals court to reject a Texas construction firm’s argument that its safety standards for crane assembly and disassembly do not cover preparatory steps, arguing that the rule is “unambiguous” and that even if its scope is unclear judges should defer to the agency’s reasonable interpretation.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit is weighing competing briefs from OSHA and two subsidiaries of the healthcare giant UHS in an appeal testing when the agency can treat legally distinct companies as a “single employer,” as each side claims the other is trying to overturn foundational precedent on that question.

California lawmakers signaled at a recent hearing that they are open to new legislation that would speed up worker-safety rulemakings and bolster enforcement at the state’s OSHA (Cal/OSHA), after labor representatives complained that several critical safety standards are taking years to complete and enforcement is lacking at best in many key sectors.

The United Steelworkers (USW) is urging OSHA to quickly propose and enact a sweeping overhaul of its process safety management (PSM) standard, arguing that the current “activity-based” model is inadequate and that the agency instead should require employers to show they have eliminated process safety dangers “to the greatest extent feasible.”

 

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