Several national laws empower the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set standards for the cleanup of contamination that resulted from accidental or deliberate releases of chemicals and other materials onto land or into water. EPA’s actions include direct requirements for cleanup by responsible parties, and also inform other parties’ evaluations of if and how to prepare contaminated areas for reuse – often referred to as “brownfields” since they’re assumed to be dirtier than never-used “greenfields.” The remainder of this note discusses EPA’s 73 page “Climate Smart Brownfields Manual,” issued by the agency in 2021Read More
Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog
Since 1982, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has administered “Voluntary Protection Programs” (VPPs) to encourage employers to establish and implement worker Safety and Health Programs that exceed minimal efforts to comply with applicable OSHA standards. OSHA designs VPP eligibility to encourage employer/employee/OSHA cooperation, and to reward such cooperation by granting employers increased flexibility and reduced likelihood of inspection. OSHA presently oversees three programs (which I described in more detail HERE), and is undertaking a “VPP Modernization” initiative to evaluate ways for “modernizing, improving, and expanding” these efforts. On February 16 OSHA posted questions about possible changes, which I discuss in the rest of this note.Read More
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides additional non-regulatory guidance for the evaluation and reduction of workplace hazards that aren’t directly regulated by its standards. For example, OSHA provides a resource webpage on Seasonal Flu, which it recently updated with provide additional guidance and links to other health agencies’ resource pages.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires most employers with 10 or more employees at any “establishment” to prepare and maintain records of occupational injuries and illnesses (I&I) as they occur (I&I Logs). OSHA also requires employers to post an annual I&I Summary in each workplace “establishment” by February 1, summarizing I&Is in that workplace during the previous calendar year. OSHA also requires some employers to submit some of their I&I information electronically to the agency for review and compilation. (I wrote about revisions proposed in March 2022 HERE). In October, OSHA revised electronic procedures for its Injury Tracking Application (API), which subject employers must be ready to use for electronic reporting of 2022 information no later than March 2, 2023.Read More
As public and occupational health agencies around the word continuously reevaluate their responses to the spread of monkeypox (also called MPX), California has issued the first regulation-oriented guidance I’ve seen. On September 13, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH, but universally called Cal/OSHA) issued “Protecting Workers from Monkeypox (MPX) for Employers and workers Covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard (Title 8 section 5199).” Depending whether MPX comes to be considered an epidemic, this Cal/OSHA effort may be the first of many – I’ve written about public health and OSH agency responses to the COVID-19 epidemic many times since 2020 – or an outlier reflecting California’s aggressive approach to potential hazards. The remainder of this note discusses the new guidance, which is targeted at health and public service workplaces but has relevance for other employers as well.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a proposal to list two perfluoro chemicals -- Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS) as hazardous substances under the federal Superfund law (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)). This proposal is the latest in a string of regulatory actions by EPA to tighten controls on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAs); the initiatives are covered under the agency’s “PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021—2024,” promulgated in October 2021. The remaninder of this note describes the latest action, and summarizes the Strategic Roadmap.Read More
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) applies wide-ranging authority to enforce its regulatory standards on subject employers. OSHA organizes this authority through a variety of enforcement programs, including a Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) focused on “employers that have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.” On September 15, 2022, OSHA revised SVEP for the first time since 2010, significantly expanding its scope (Directive CPL 02-00-169, SVEP (9/15/22)). The rest of this note discusses SVEP, highlighting the latest revisions.Read More
The US federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates workplace exposures to radiation, in two separate standards that distinguish between “non-ionizing” and “ionizing” radiation. OSHA’s Ionizing Radiation Standard (29 CFR 1910.1096) covers workplaces that contain a broad range of high-energy atomic and sub-atomic particles (alpha, beta, gamma, and X-rays, for example), and radioactive materials that emit such particles. The Standard establishes exposure and dosage levels, requires workplace and employee monitoring, and specifies measures to protect workers against ionizing radiation. The rest of this note discusses the Ionizing Radiation Standard. (I wrote about the Non-ionizing Radiation Standard HERE).Read More
The federal Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board – which usually refers to itself as the Chemical Safety Board or CSB – conducts independent investigations of major chemical accidents, issues accident-specific findings, and offers specific or general recommendations for improved chemical handling and regulation. In August 2022, CSB has issued compliance guidance addressing its “Chemical Incident Reporting Rule” (actually 6 rules, in 40 CFR part 1604) (I wrote about the Rule when it was adopted in February 2020, HERE). The remainder of this note summarizes CSB’s latest guidance.Read More
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) grants the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) nationwide authority to issue and enforce worker protection measures at most workplaces. However, some categories of employers are regulated by other agencies, including DOL’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In addition, the OSH Act outlines procedures for states to apply to OSHA to assume OSH Act authority within their boundaries – a state prepares a “state plan” to undertake OSH Act regulation of public sector (state and local government) workers, and optionally private employers as well (29 USC 667). Once OSHA approves such an application, the state is delegated authority and commonly referred to as a “state plan state.” There are presently 22 State Plans covering both private and public sector employees, and 7 more covering only state and local government workers. Although these OSHA-state relationships are generally very stable, two states’ status has been up for review during 2022: OSHA is considering whether to revoke Arizona’s delegation, and has just granted Massachusetts a new state plan role regulating public sector employees. The rest of this note discussed state plans, and identifies issues with the two states.Read More