Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Cleaning up after wildfires

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 29, 2020

Western North America is suffering from huge wildfires this year. I’ve written pieces discussing ways to protect workplaces from fire (HERE) and to protect workers during wildfires (HERE). Today’s note discusses worker safety during cleanup after wildfires. I synthesize guidance from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California EPA (CalEPA), and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

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Tags: OSHA, EPA, CDC, workplace safety, Wildfire, Cal-Fire, California, CalEPA, CDPH

California regulates Air Toxics “Hot Spots”

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Sep 15, 2020

In 1987, California adopted the Air Toxics “Hot Spots” Information and Assessment Act, responding to increasing concern over toxics in the air (AB 2588 (Connelly, Sterling)).  This law complements California’s enforcement of national requirements governing stationary source emissions of air toxics. The federal Clean Air Act (CAA) required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish and maintain a list of air toxics, named as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), and to set emissions standards (National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) for many HAP emission sources; California incorporates HAP/NESHAP requirements into the state’s Toxic Air Contaminant (TAC) / Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) program. (I discussed these requirements HERE).

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Tags: OSHA, CAA, Cal/OSHA, California, Air Toxics, NESHAPs, TAC, ATCM, Hot Spots Act, OEHHA, BAAQMD, HAPs, ARB

Regulating routine emissions of air toxics

Posted by Jon Elliott on Fri, Sep 11, 2020

The federal Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish and maintain a list of air toxics, named as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), and to set emissions standards for many sources of such pollutants. HAPs include heavy metals, organics, and other airborne pollutants that are not otherwise regulated as “criteria” air pollutants (such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and ground level ozone). This note summarizes requirements applicable to stationary sources.

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Tags: OSHA, CAA, mact, Air Toxics, NESHAPs, GACT, HAPs, ADI

Protecting your workplace from wildfires

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Aug 26, 2020

Summer is wildfire season in many areas, although its importance to your workplace obviously varies. We worry more here in California than folks in New England -- as I started this note my home region around San Francisco Bay had the worst air quality on the planet  during a siege of wildfires from lightning strikes. If your workplace is a downtown high rise, wildfire risks are less than if it's in a suburban office park – and if you’re telecommuting during the COVID pandemic, it may depend less on your employer’s location than where you’ve set yourself up.

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Tags: OSHA, Covid-19, workplace safety, Wildfire, Cal-Fire, California, Summer

OSHA revises and narrows beryllium standard

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Aug 19, 2020

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates thousands of chemicals, through regulatory standards directing employers to reduce worker exposures. For a small number of especially hazardous chemicals, OSHA provides a detailed standard applicable to a single chemical—examples include asbestos, benzene, and lead. Another single-chemical standard covers beryllium (29 CFR 1910.1024), which OSHA has revised effective September 14, 2020. OSHA describes the revisions as meant “to clarify certain provisions and simplify or improve compliance … to maintain or enhance worker protections overall by ensuring that the rule is well understood and compliance is more straightforward.” The agency notes that none of the changes impose new costs on employers, and some will reduce compliance costs.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, chemical safety, Beryllium, Beryllium Standard

California’s new ag worker standard is useful for anyone working outside at night

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Jul 08, 2020

Beginning July 1, 2020, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (usually called “Cal/OSHA”) oversees requirements for workplace lighting to assist and protect employees who perform agricultural work outside at night. These include requirements for lighting to illuminate work activities and the workers themselves, including operation of front and rear lights on vehicles. Although these new requirements only apply directly if your organization employs agricultural workers in California, any other organization whose workers are active outside at night should compare its measures to these new standards.

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Tags: OSHA, Safety and Health at Work, workplace safety, Agriculture, Cal/OSHA, Ag workers

OSHA issues new post-COVID back-to-work guidance

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jun 30, 2020

On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new guidance to assist businesses deemed “non-essential” during the COVID-19 pandemic as they reopen their workplaces. OSHA’s new “Guidance on Returning to Work” sets forth a number of basic principles that OSHA recommends guide employer actions, including specific examples. The document also reminds readers that responsibilities always apply under OSHA’s Employer’s General Duty Clause, references a number of existing OSHA standards that apply to re-opening activities and reopened workplaces, and identifies other sources of guidance and requirements.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, EEOC, Coronavirus, CDC, Covid-19, Back-to-Work

Remember OSHA’s workplace hygiene requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Jun 10, 2020

Employers considering how to protect their employees from coronavirus infections can look to a growing variety of general and specific guidance. I recently wrote about the latest coronavirus-specific guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (see HERE). 

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Tags: OSHA, EPA, clean water, CDC, Workplace hygiene, sanitation

Is that workplace COVID case work related? OSHA revises enforcement review of employer determinations

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, May 27, 2020

Effective May 26, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised its (interim) enforcement guidance for its inspectors and personnel use when investigating whether an employer properly classified a workplace illness involving COVID-19. This guidance expands and replaces the version OSHA issued on April 10 -- it does not affect the agency’s broader enforcement guidance for cases considering whether an employer unreasonably exposed employees to COVID-19 (which I wrote about here), although it’s easy to imagine scenarios where inspectors could be called upon to investigate both types of potential violations. OSHA states this guidance will remain effective until the present public health crisis ends, unless revised again.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, Coronavirus, Safety and Health at Work, Workplace hygiene, Covid-19

OSHA issues interim enforcement procedures for COVID-19 cases

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Apr 22, 2020

I wrote recently about guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help employers protect their workers against COVID-19 (coronavirus) infection. (see HERE). 

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Tags: OSHA, Coronavirus, CDC, Covid-19, Compliance Safety