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GOP Lawmaker Seeks Abatement Before Citation For 'Very Minor' OSHA Infractions

A Republican congresswoman, acting upon what she says are numerous complaints from constituents that OSHA is going into work sites and citing up to the maximum possible penalties for “very minor” alleged regulatory violations, has filed a bill that effectively would bar OSHA from issuing such penalties before employers have a chance to fix problems identified by compliance officers.

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A House Democrat from the Houston area has re-introduced legislation mandating that OSHA require logs of workplace injuries across the entirety of multi-employer work sites, regardless of whether a contractor or other type of temporary staffing company directly employs the workers as opposed to the site-controlling employer.

A national umbrella group of worker advocacy organizations on Thursday (April 23) urged federal and state law enforcement officials -- including the Justice Department working in concert with OSHA officials -- to increase the number of criminal prosecutions brought in severe safety and health cases, particularly ones involving fatalities and alleged willful violations of the OSH Act.

NIOSH's recent Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) of a poultry plant in Maryland found “significant problems” related to musculoskeletal disorders, according to OSHA, which lauds the research agency's evaluation program in general and indicates that results of its probes would broadly benefit stakeholders, though without saying whether such findings could be used specifically for enforcement or rulemaking activity.

OSHA's recent citations against a New York supplier of plastic balls used in hydraulic fracturing, alleging process safety management (PSM) violations and other hazards, appears to underscore the agency's heightened attention to safety in the large-scale use of chemicals, with one OSHA official lodging concern about the storage or use of more than 1,000 pounds of formaldehyde.

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public input on whether sufficient scientific evidence exists to back its proposal to add 1-bromopropane -- a chemical that occupational health advocates have long urged OSHA to regulate in the workplace through exposure limits -- to the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for reporting of chemical releases, a move EPA is justifying based on research suggesting the substance is a carcinogen worthy of tracking on TRI.