Inside OSHA

September 21, 2019

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OSHA and other agencies appear headed for a continuing resolution (CR) to fund their operations when fiscal year 2020 begins next month after the Senate earlier this week failed to debate the agency’s FY20 spending bill and the House overwhelmingly approved a CR that will fund the government until shortly before Thanksgiving.

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A federal judge is asking EPA and environmentalists to respond to a set of questions in a potentially precedent-setting Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) case after an agency lawyer sought to clarify statements she made during recent oral arguments but instead raised new doubts about the agency’s stances on key issues and the suit’s procedural posture.

Worker and other safety advocates are warning they might sue the Agriculture Department (USDA) over its just-issued rule easing swine slaughter inspection requirements and increasing line speeds, arguing the measure will increase risks to workers that already face some of the highest workplace injury rates in the country.

Labor and other groups are threatening to sue EPA over allegations that the agency is inadequately releasing information about new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), detailing concerns that they will likely urge the agency to address as it prepares to release a new framework for its new chemicals review process.

EPA has sent to the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for pre-publication review its final rule aimed at repealing Obama-era changes that tightened facility safety risk management plan (RMP) requirements, moving ahead on the measure after repeated delays.

House lawmakers still appear divided on legislation that would reauthorize and strengthen the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) chemical facility safety program as the House Energy and Commerce Committee takes up the issue, though they are pledging to continue working towards an agreement.

A federal judge appeared skeptical of environmentalists’ landmark efforts to pursue claims against EPA under both the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) when the agency denied their TSCA section 21 petition seeking rules requiring additional asbestos reporting.

Administration efforts to address lead-paint dust in residential settings are facing wide-ranging criticisms, with EPA’s Inspector General (IG) charging the program lacks goals or ways to track progress and the agency’s advisors and environmentalists questioning why the agency has yet to update its lead dust clearance standards for contractors.

OSHA is facing a stakeholder battle as it proceeds with its plan to drop a rulemaking to rescind ancillary provisions from its beryllium rule for the construction sector and instead tailor the provisions, with industry groups suggesting they may sue as the agency lacks evidence for a threshold finding while health groups are citing studies backing the effort.

OSHA this week unveiled a new voluntary alliance with three major poultry sector trade associations in a bid to allay safety concerns over Agriculture Department (USDA) efforts to ease line speed requirements at processing plants, though labor advocates are strongly criticizing USDA’s actions and calling for stepped-up OSHA scrutiny.

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