Subscriber Login

Homepage

Congressional Democrats are renewing their long-standing push to reinstate, and update Obama-era policies aimed at barring federal contract awards to contractors with poor worker safety records after they were rescinded by Republicans and President Donald Trump.

Latest News

The White House has completed review of a draft final rule that will remove or revise duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent safety and health standards though the measure is not expected to include an Obama-era plan to expand when OSHA’s safety standard applies to power equipment that is shut off for repairs.

EPA has expanded the number of renewed asbestos uses for which manufacturers would have to seek agency approval though its final significant new use rule (SNUR), issued under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), still falls short of calls from some states and environmentalists for even broader restrictions or a total ban.

Complicating Trump EPA plans to rollback Obama-era facility safety rules, industry lawyers are warning that the agency faces constitutional challenges over its plan to retain provisions that require companies to hold a public meeting to disclose data on an incident, saying the mandate helps potential plaintiffs and seeks to regulate by “shaming.”

EPA is floating its rule governing chemical use and other data industry must submit in 2020 under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a measure that include provisions aimed at reducing reporting burdens which industry groups had failed to win when a negotiation collapsed in 2017 in part over an overlap with OSHA.

Senate Republicans have begun approving Trump administration nominees for the Labor Department under new rules that limit debate, suggesting they may soon confirm the president's long-time pick to lead OSHA, though the move is frustrating Democrats who say the GOP is unfairly blocking two of their nominees for labor panels.

Citing EPA’s failure to account for the chemical hazards to which firefighters are exposed, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is sponsoring its own research to study the risks posed by chemicals in the per- and polyfluoroakyl substances (PFAS) class, which were widely used in firefighting foam.

At the request of Congress, NIOSH is seeking comment on the feasibility of creating a national mesothelioma registry, an effort the agency says could help improve prevention and treatment of workers' exposure to asbestos -- the main pathway to contracting the fatal disease.

A National Academies of Sciences (NAS) panel is backing the use of chemical dispersants to address oil spills but is urging federal regulators to improve their oversight of and data collection on the chemicals before the next major spill to ensure that future use of the substances does not adversely impact cleanup workers.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts' currently unknown position on when courts should defer to EPA and other federal agencies' interpretations of their regulations will largely determine whether and to what degree the current standard remains, according to legal experts.

Short Takes

President Trump’s nominee to lead OSHA, Scott Mugno, could soon be confirmed by the Senate after Republicans moved unilaterally to scale back debate rules that had required 30 hours of debate on judicial and executive branch nominees before any votes to now only require two hours.

A Marine Corps veteran asking the Supreme Court to scrap its practice of deferring to OSHA and other agencies on their regulatory interpretations says the justices should reject the Trump administration’s push for a scaled-back deference doctrine, arguing such an outcome would have “bizarre, if not destructive” consequences.

A group of 34 House Democrats is urging Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to reinstate the Obama administration's 2016 final recordkeeping and reporting rule which required employers to submit to OSHA reports on workplace illnesses and injuries but which the Trump administration has scaled back to address what it says are privacy concerns.

The White House has completed its review of EPA’s rule limiting use of methylene chloride in paint strippers, clearing the way for the agency to issue a first-time measure targeting an existing chemical under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) though critics say it fails to adequately protect workers and falls short of an Obama plan.