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OSHA Targets September For Publication Of Controversial Recordkeeping Rule

OSHA may be only four months away from publishing a long-promised and highly controversial rule to compel employers to submit electronic records of work-related injuries and illnesses, with the September date for the rule inked in the latest regulatory agenda only a month slip from the agency's earlier target, leaving observers to speculate the Obama administration is determined to finish the rule but needs to iron out final technical details before publishing it. Issuance of a rule that closely resembles the proposed version would likely draw litigation from industry.

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A key building industry group in Texas is suing the Labor Department over provisions of OSHA's recently finalized rule aimed at reducing confined space risks in construction activities, potentially putting up a legal roadblock to full implementation of the rule.

NIOSH has launched a joint effort with academia to study the potential safety and health impacts on workers from the rapidly growing nanotechnology industry, with one of its goals to eventually produce guidance that companies can use to reduce risks from exposure to engineered microscopic particles.

The Environmental Protection Agency is strengthening guidance and training for its regional staff in overseeing state enforcement of federal pesticide rules including the agency's farm worker protection standards (WPS) following an Inspector General (IG) report faulting inadequate oversight, though the agency disagrees with the IG that it is not holding states accountable.

A move by federal OSHA towards approving a state plan in Maine covering state and local employees represents an unusual bid to increase the number of states with delegated OSHA programs, and sources say the trend may continue in future years with political efforts under way in West Virginia to apply for state plan status.

Congress' investigative arm is urging OSHA and other Labor Department agencies to ensure consistent compliance with White House parameters for setting out new regulatory guidance, as concerns simultaneously arise on Capitol Hill that agencies may be circumventing the rulemaking process in some instances by issuing effectively binding policies.