Inside OSHA

April 14, 2024

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A bill advancing in the California Legislature would require California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) to amend its hospital violence-prevention rules to require that facilities maintain metal detectors at certain entrances, and implement a number of supporting security measures.

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House Republicans have introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that seeks to roll back EPA’s controversial rule tightening many aspects of its risk management program (RMP) for chemical facilities, teeing up a statutorily mandated vote on the repeal in the coming weeks.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved OSHA’s final rule updating the hazard communication standard (HCS) that governs safety labels for toxic, flammable and otherwise dangerous chemicals, after employers and trade groups warned that the 2021 proposal would massively expand data-gathering requirements.

OSHA has released an FAQ document that aims to clarify implementation details for its controversial rule allowing worker representatives to take part in “walkaround” inspections even if they are not employed at the site under review, including how non-unionized workers can select representatives and steps employers can take to avoid disclosure to outsiders.

California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) officials say they are still “committed” to strong implementation of existing indoor heat protections and ongoing efforts to bolster them, despite the likely forthcoming rejection by state administrators of a sweeping set of more stringent rules adopted by the agency’s standards board last month at a chaotic meeting.

EPA has formally published its TSCA chrysotile asbestos rule, starting a 60-day clock for potential court challenges and a rolling series of compliance deadlines for industries to phase out the mineral -- starting with bans on new imports or installation of several asbestos-based products that are now set to take effect in late November.

EPA will use an industry “workshop” next month to unveil standard “occupational exposure scenarios” (OES) developed by staff to assess potential worker exposures as part of its TSCA risk evaluations of existing chemicals -- a move that could help address industry complaints that those reviews greatly overstate occupational risks.

Critics of OSHA’s controversial rule to allow worker representatives to take part in enforcement “walkaround” inspections, even if they are not employed at the site under review, say changes to the final version did little to address their concerns, and one employer attorney says court challenges are now “all but guaranteed.”

Nine congressional Republicans and one Democrat are pressing EPA to loosen an exposure limit in its draft TSCA risk evaluation of formaldehyde, arguing that adopting the proposed figure would result in a “de facto ban” of the ubiquitous chemical despite the agency’s statements that it will consider costs and practicability in any rule based on the review.

OSHA has released the final version of its controversial rule to allow worker representatives to take part in enforcement “walkaround” inspections even if they are not employed at the site under review, making only minimal changes from the 2023 proposal while laying out counterarguments to employers’ claims that the new policy is illegal or unconstitutional.

 

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