While some parts of the government may not be functioning at full capacity, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Environmental Protection Agency are moving full-speed ahead with new requirements and the proposition of new regulations.
OSHA proposed in the “Federal Register” in November a new rulemaking “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illness.” As stated by OSHA, the rulemaking would improve workplace safety and health through the collection of useful, accessible, established data for specific illness and injuries.
Key takeaways from the proposed rule are: Establishments with 250 employees must report information from their OSHA Form 300A quarterly; establishments with 20 or more employees must report the information from their OSHA form 300A annually; and any establishment receiving a notice from OSHA must report their information.
In all cases, the information must be reported electronically.
AFIA’s Production Compliance Committee has already met by conference call to discuss the proposed rule and possible comments that may be submitted by the March 31 deadline. The committee reviewed the key takeaways and discussed other portions of the proposed rule.
The Production Compliance Committee continues to keep a watchful eye on the changes to the Hazard Communication Standard rewrite. While the joint litigation is still in process, it is moving slow. The litigation is currently in line behind the OSHA v. American Petroleum Institute case. The court has said as long as the two parties are negotiating it will not proceed to the next litigation.
On January 2, OSHA released an “OSHA Memo” entitled “Classification of Combustible Dusts under the Revised Hazard Communication Standard.” The memo stated there “is no requirement to test the chemical to determine how to classify its hazards.” It also said that manufacturers “must consider the full range of available information” regarding potential hazards, including Kst testing “if it is available.”
These statements in the OSHA memo, which recognize that Kst testing is not mandatory, are consistent with the position AFIA took in 2013 in its unsuccessful effort to settle the ongoing industry lawsuit challenging the combustible dust aspects of OSHA’s Hazard Communications Standard.
EPA is seeking to require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems permit holders and certain Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations to electronically report their NPDES and inspection information to EPA.
The concern is that the information would lead to unlawful dissemination of the personal information about farmers. Additionally, the EPA does not have the means to protect the private information of those submitting the information. The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation filed a suit against EPA in 2013 claiming the agency released data in 30 states to environmental groups under the Freedom of Information Act that contained personal information including home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.
Both agencies say transparency and accountability as reasons to collect and make data available. The industry remains concerned that the collection of the data does not make the employees safer with regard to OSHA or promote a safer environment regarding EPA, but only exposes companies and farmers to unjustified scrutiny.
For more information on these issues, contact Keith Epperson, AFIA vice president of manufacturing and training, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 558-3568.