Inside OSHA

November 12, 2019

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A chemical industry group has told California regulators that while it has found one “possible” safer alternative to methylene chloride in paint and varnish stripping products, it is not clear whether the alternative is safe enough to win state approval, highlighting the difficulty regulators face as they seek to ban such products due in part to worker risks.

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California health officials are preparing on Jan. 1 to start reporting high lead-level blood tests of workers to Cal/OSHA and the agency must consider carrying out workplace inspections and requiring additional reporting by businesses, under the requirements of a controversial law Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) enacted last month.

OSHA is believed to be considering bringing a case testing whether it can cite an employer using a voluntary permissible exposure limits (PELs) for exposures to hazardous substances even when the exposure is below the federal PEL, say legal observers who nevertheless argue companies would have defenses against such a case.

A government watchdog group is weighing a lawsuit against EPA after the agency denied its petition seeking to ban the refinery chemical hydrofluoric acid (HF) under its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and Clean Air Act authorities, with the agency saying the group failed to provide sufficient facts to support a ban.

Racing to meet an extended June 2020 deadline to complete 10 chemical evaluations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA has released its latest draft risk analysis -- of a widely used solvent -- though it will almost certainly draw criticisms from peer reviewers who continue to criticize the agency’s risk methods.

Employer attorneys are alerting companies in California about their responsibilities to comply with new state OSHA wildfire smoke exposure and safety rules, highlighting the importance of adhering to the rules while multiple fires sweep through large swaths of the state in both agricultural and urban areas.

James Sullivan, the chairman and lone member of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), is optimistic that Congress will swiftly approve two nominations to join the panel so that it can once again have a quorum to resume its work reviewing contested OSHA workplace citations and penalties.

EPA’s has released a draft risk evaluation that finds scores of methylene chloride uses can pose unreasonable risks to consumers, workers and bystanders, a finding that opens the door to the agency adopting new toxics rules months after issuing a controversial measure that regulated only consumer uses of paint strippers containing the chemical.

Thirteen Democratic state attorneys general (AGs) are citing preliminary investigation results from the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) on explosions at a Philadelphia refinery to reiterate their recent calls for EPA and the White House to “abandon” plans to roll back strict Obama-era Risk Management Plan (RMP) facility safety requirements.

EPA is poised to release its draft evaluation of environmental and health risks from exposure to methylene chloride, according to a pending Federal Register notice, raising questions about what risk determinations the agency proposes, particularly regarding occupational exposures not addressed in its existing rule.

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