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OSHA Planned Rule Aims To Surmount Court Decision Over Time Limits On Recordkeeping Citations

OSHA plans through a newly proposed rule -- which sources say will almost certainly be disputed -- to overcome a key federal appeals court decision three years ago that killed a longtime agency policy stance that inaccurate OSHA logs continued to violate recordkeeping regulations every day the records remained erroneous, continuing to trigger the six-month time limit on potential citations against the employer.

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One of President Obama's nominees to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) going through Senate confirmation tells lawmakers she would balk at recommending a European-style “safety case” approach at chemical facilities without much more consultation with U.S. stakeholders than has occurred to date.

California state regulators are urging the feds to define all nanomaterials as new chemicals under a proposed federal data collection rule for nanoscale materials, arguing new reporting requirements are insufficient to protect the public, though producers are seeking exemptions from the reporting proposal.

Some large-scale chemical distributors that once sidestepped OSHA process safety management (PSM) oversight because they technically qualified for a “retail exemption” under the rule could now be subject to PSM inspections and potential enforcement, with OSHA in a contentious move tightening its policy on where the exemption applies.

OSHA delivered a clear message to employers Wednesday (July 22) that it will aggressively enforce new worker hospitalization reporting rules by determining if employers willfully flouted the law and potentially hitting them with egregious citations, holding up a recent Texas case charging that a company deliberately dodged telling OSHA about a serious medical incident for several days, leading to the maximum proposed fine.

OSHA's newly produced enforcement policy for the 2012 update to hazard communication (hazcom) standards makes several strides in clarifying for both field staff and affected employers the circumstances under which alleged violations of the rule could be cited, sources say, but industries are concerned about detailed instructions in the guidance and what they consider new, unforeseen paperwork and compliance burdens.