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Industry trade groups are urging OSHA to increase resources for the agency's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and give employer safety programs, including some incentive programs opposed by the Obama administration, a greater role in VPP, though labor groups say OSHA should evaluate VPP's effectiveness and not take funds from enforcement.

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Industry attorneys are outlining a series of hurdles to implementing a controversial Obama OSHA rule updating the agency's worker injury and illness reporting regulation, including House passage of a measure that would gut implementation, uncertainty over state reporting requirements and a looming Trump administration deregulatory rule.

The AFL-CIO is faulting OSHA's narrowing of criteria for publishing worker fatality online as the latest step by the Trump administration to hide information from the public, and countering OSHA's rationale for the decision, arguing failure to cite an employer does not preclude acknowledging a death and calling the removal an insult.

EPA is urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to transfer to the 4th Circuit environmentalists' challenges to the agency's rule for prioritizing chemicals for review under the revised Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), arguing the 4th Circuit is already hearing a case over a related rule and moving it there could conserve resources.

OSHA and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have established a two-year alliance to reduce worker risks from exposure to diisocyanates in the polyurethane industry, an agreement that could bolster industry calls to scale back California efforts to review and possibly regulate products containing the substances.

Concerns over dozens of workplace fatalities attributed to methylene chloride exposures since the 1980s may hamper efforts by some small business owners and their supporters to prevent federal regulators from banning the chemicals' use in some operations.

White House regulatory affairs chief Neomi Rao is urging OSHA and other agencies to propose regulatory cost budget for fiscal year 2018, as required by a Trump administration executive order, that will indicate how agencies plan to reduce regulatory costs in the coming year.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reiterating its claims that labor and other public interest groups lack standing to sue over President Donald Trump's order (EO) that requires OSHA and other agencies to repeal two rules for every new measure issued, urging a federal court to take a broad interpretation of an appellate case that limited such challenges rather than the plaintiffs' preferred, limited view.

Senate appropriators have advanced a draft fiscal year 2018 spending bill that would hold OSHA funding steady at FY17 levels, declining to follow the lead of House appropriators who this summer proposed slashing OSHA's budget and are currently seeking to block enforcement of Obama-era agency rules through riders on their spending bill.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is backing a Trump administration plan to limit OSHA's final beryllium rule by scrapping certain provisions from applying to the construction and shipyard sectors, while also calling for restoring an abandoned Obama-era plan exempting some work sites or suspending an exposure limit for the two sectors until further review.

Short Takes

The Trump administration's nominee to head EPA's air office is poised to represent industry clients in upcoming oral arguments challenging OSHA's landmark rule reducing limits for worker exposure to silica dusts, a move that is drawing criticism from a former Obama official who says it shows the Trump administration is empowering regulatory opponents to run agencies charged with protecting public health.

Despite an alert from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) experts on cyber crime, OSHA has restored access to its electronic portal for accepting companies' worker injury and illness data under the Obama administration's controversial record-keeping rule after determining that the website was not hacked.

A coalition of Democratic state attorneys general (AG) is backing environmentalists' efforts to vacate EPA's lengthy delay of an Obama-era update to the agency's facility accident prevention program, arguing the delay violates the Clean Air Act and is arbitrary and capricious because it misconstrues a federal arson finding as central to the update rule.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has scheduled 90 minutes for oral argument next month in litigation challenging the Obama OSHA's landmark silica rule, allowing time for industry claims faulting the agency's assessment of silica's risks and the feasibility of the rule, as well as for labor concerns that the rule is not strict enough.