Inside OSHA

June 14, 2024

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A bipartisan amendment to the fiscal year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have reauthorized the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) lapsed Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard (CFATS) has failed to reach the House floor, cutting off another avenue to revive the program almost a year after it expired.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has quietly replaced the chairman of Cal/OSHA’s standards board and dismissed a vocal member of the panel who represented occupational health interests, in the aftermath of the members’ controversial decision to approve a new worker-safety standard for indoor heat despite opposition from the state finance department.

A federal judicial panel has chosen the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review EPA’s redone “framework” rule governing TSCA risk evaluations of existing chemicals -- a victory for labor groups that sought to challenge it there, and a loss for industry groups that favored the conservative 5th Circuit instead.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has appointed Debra Lee as the permanent head of Cal/OSHA, a role she has filled in an acting capacity since early this year -- tasking her with working through the agency’s backlog of worker-safety rulemakings amid a stubbornly high staff vacancy rate.

President Joe Biden is nominating a longtime labor and trade official to one of the two vacant seats on the Occupational Safety and Health Association Review Commission (OSHRC), after the Senate’s inaction on a prior nominee has left the panel with just a single active member, and thus unable to decide cases, for over a year.

EPA is proposing to ban the solvent n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) in fertilizers, lubricants and a handful of other products while setting strict new requirements for its continued use in other sectors, including both workplace exposure limits and product restrictions designed to protect consumers in its latest TSCA chemical risk-management rule.

Members of the House Homeland Security Committee used a June 4 hearing on OSHA’s proposed updates to health and safety standards for “emergency responders” to raise concerns over their compliance costs for local fire departments and whether the new provisions would truly bolster protections for firefighters in particular.

California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) officials are scrambling to revise and resubmit their landmark but controversial new indoor heat worker-safety rules in time for the expanded requirements to take effect in late July, assuming the agency’s standards board will approve them at a June 20 meeting.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has opened interagency review of EPA’s final TSCA rule governing perchloroethylene (PCE), setting up a renewed battle among stakeholders over the agency’s proposal to ban PCE in many sectors, while imposing strict exposure limits in others and a decade-long phaseout of the solvent for dry-cleaning.

Employer groups are lining up behind House Republicans’ Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would scrap OSHA’s controversial worker walkaround rule, renewing their arguments that it oversteps the agency’s statutory authority and threatens workplace security, although the measure is all but certain to fail since it is subject to a presidential veto.

 

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