Inside OSHA

January 28, 2023

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With new support from 18 more lawmakers, a group of House and Senate Democrats is renewing its call for EPA to toughen its proposed risk management program (RMP) rule when it finalizes the rule later this year, seeking to shore up the rulemaking just days after one of their key supporters announced plans to leave EPA after failing to win Senate confirmation.

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Officials with the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) say the group is pushing both OSHA and EPA to prioritize enforcing their Risk Management Program (RMP) and process safety management (PSM) standard facility safety policies rather than overhauling and expanding them through pending rules.

OSHA is urging a federal appeals court to reject an employer’s arguments that the OSH Act’s safety standard program is unconstitutional under the “non-delegation” doctrine, arguing that both the law itself and Supreme Court precedent establish well-defined limits on that authority.

OSHA is citing Amazon over a wide range of alleged safety violations at three of the retailer’s warehouses in Florida, Illinois and New York, marking the latest step in an investigation prompted by rare referrals from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the agency.

California OSHA’s (Cal/OSHA) standards board has narrowly voted to recommend that agency staff add “exclusion pay” requirements to a forthcoming long-term infectious disease standard for general industry, renewing debate over the mandate after officials dropped it from new COVID-19 safety standards.

Employer representatives and worker-safety advocates are targeting a host of upcoming California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) draft safety rules for scrutiny and likely policy battles, including standards for lead exposures, workplace violence, indoor heat, and a permanent infectious disease standard that is expected to include a controversial “exclusion pay” requirement.

OSHA is raising its minimum and maximum penalties for OSH Act violations by 7.7 percent to account for inflation, an even larger hike than the prior year and one the agency is again ordering states to adopt in their own work-safety programs even as it awaits a federal judge’s ruling in litigation over whether that mandate is lawful.

The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) is underscoring the importance of the “creating employer” doctrine for identifying liability for safety violations at multi-employer worksites, as the panel remanded for new proceedings a case where an administrative law judge (ALJ) rejected an OSHA crane-safety violation under separate test for identifying “controlling” employers at such sites.

Health and work-safety groups that sued over OSHA’s Trump-era rollback of electronic recordkeeping mandates are pressing to resume their suit after the Biden administration moved its target for finalizing a new, stricter rule from March to June, saying the agency’s “pattern of reneging on its agreements” means litigation is the only sure path to resolve their claims.

OSHA’s director of standards and guidance is vowing that the agency will move quickly on its long-awaited nationwide heat danger standard, telling a key advisory committee that it is actively developing new guidance and expects to initiate a small-business consultation within months.

 

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