April 24, 2023
Three new hazard classes for classifying, labelling and packaging (CLP) substances and mixtures enter into force on 20 April 2023. ECHA has published information on the application dates and related guidance.
The European Commission has updated the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation with the following hazard classes:
- Endocrine disruptors (ED) for human health or the environment;
- Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT); very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB); and
- Persistent, mobile and toxic (PMT); very persistent and very mobile (vPvM).
Companies and Member State authorities can use current guidance on identifying endocrine disruptors and on PBT (persistence, bioaccumulation, toxicity) assessment until the guidance on applying the CLP criteria has been updated. It is expected to be ready in 2024.
The new hazard classes will be included in the IT tool IUCLID during spring 2024. From then on, companies will be able to include information related to the new hazard classes in their classification and labelling notifications, REACH registrations and dossiers for product and process orientated research and development (PPORD), as well as in their submissions under the Biocidal Products Regulation and poison centre notifications.
After the transition periods, it will be mandatory for companies to indicate if the substance is classified in any of the new hazard classes.
Information on transitional periods and dates when the regulation starts to apply to different substances and mixtures is available on ECHA’s website.
Cal/OSHA Cites Equipment Company, Refers Construction Company for Criminal Prosecution Following Confined Space Deaths
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has cited Meeder Equipment Company of Rancho Cucamonga and referred D&D Construction Specialties, Inc. of Sun Valley (D&D) for criminal prosecution in two separate cases of workers’ deaths related to confined spaces. All employers must recognize, evaluate and control confined space hazards to ensure workers’ safety.
Meeder Equipment Company and its successors were cited a combined $272,250 for serious safety violations following a confined space death of a worker who suffocated in a 10,000-gallon propane gas tank. In a separate case, D&D faced criminal prosecution for the 2016 death of a worker who lost consciousness and fell 15 feet while cleaning a 50-foot-deep, 48-inch-wide drainage sump. Cal/OSHA’s Enforcement branch also issued citations to D&D, including a serious accident-related citation for failure to conduct a hazard inspection before this work was performed.
“Working in confined spaces is extremely dangerous, so the necessary emergency equipment must be available and employees trained in its use if rescue is needed," said Cal/OSHA Chief Jeff Killip. “Identifying hazards and having a rescue plan before a worker enters a confined space can prevent tragedy."
Confined space hazards exist in many workplaces. Employers must identify and label confined spaces, establish and maintain onsite emergency response plans, and provide training for workers and supervisors. Common types of confined spaces include tanks, silos, pipelines, sewers, storage bins, drain tunnels and vaults.
On August 18, 2022, a mechanic employed by Meeder Equipment Company entered the tank to spray a valve inside. He was later found unresponsive inside the permit-required confined space. Meeder employees attempted to rescue him without proper respiratory protection but were unsuccessful, as they were nearly overcome by the lack of oxygen inside the tank. The Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department rescued the employee and transported him to a nearby hospital where he died.
Meeder Equipment Company’s violations include one categorized as willful and serious after Cal/OSHA determined the employer failed to follow confined space requirements, did not provide employees with safety training or respiratory equipment, and did not have an emergency rescue plan. A willful violation is cited when evidence shows the employer either knowingly violated the law or took no reasonable steps to address a known hazard.
Among other violations cited were failure to:
- Test or monitor the atmosphere inside the permit-required confined space during initial and subsequent rescue entries.
- Provide at least one attendant outside of the permit-required confined space during the duration of all entry operations.
- Prepare a proper entry permit.
- Provide effective training to perform duties while working inside a permit-required confined space.
- In a separate and unrelated investigation, Cal/OSHA’s Bureau of Investigations (BOI) successfully referred to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office a worker’s 2016 confined-space death for criminal prosecution. BOI is responsible for investigating employee fatality and serious injury cases, and for preparing and referring cases to local and state prosecutors for criminal prosecution.
The victim in the D&D case was employed by a licensed general contractor as a laborer and was assigned to clean water, muck and other debris from the bottom of a 50-foot-deep, 48-inch-wide drainage sump. The victim stood on a metal bucket attached to a small crane that lowered him into the shaft opening. After 15 to 20 feet, he became unresponsive and fell head-first to the bottom of the shaft. The victim died as a result of drowning.
On September 27, 2019, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office filed a felony criminal complaint against D&D. Daniel T. Moore, the president of D&D, was charged with involuntary manslaughter under Penal Code section 192(b) and two counts of willful violation of an occupational safety or health standard under Labor Code section 6425(a). Marty K. Hamilton, the superintendent of D&D, who is now deceased, was charged with violating two counts of Labor Code section 6425(a). In November 2022, Moore was convicted of a felony for violating Labor Code section 6425. He was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine, which included $22,000 to the victim's family and $15,000 to BOI, one year of formal probation, and completion of OSHA training.
Cal/OSHA has extensive informational materials on its website, including a confined space guide for the general industry to help employers provide safe workplaces and ensure workers know these hazards.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is a division with the Department of Industrial Relations that helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Employers who have questions or want assistance with workplace health and safety programs can call Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch at 800-963-9424.
Workers who have questions about their rights or have questions about workplace protections can call Cal/OSHA’s Bilingual Call Center at 833-579-0927 to speak with a Cal/OSHA representative. Complaints about workplace safety and health hazards can be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA district offices. Information and other resources are posted on Cal/OSHA’s website.
The Williams Companies and Related Entities Resolve Clean Air Act Violations at Alabama Natural Gas Processing Plant and 14 Other Facilities
Today, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the states of Alabama, Colorado, West Virginia and Wyoming, and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality announced a settlement that will reduce pollution at 15 natural gas processing plants, including the Mobile Bay natural gas processing plant in Coden, Alabama.
Under the settlement with The Williams Companies, Inc. and several of its subsidiaries and its successor at the Ignacio Gas Plant, Harvest Four Corners, LLC, the companies will spend an estimated $8.5 million to strengthen leak detection and repair practices and significantly reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), methane, and other pollutants. Williams will also pay a $3.75 million civil penalty and the companies will complete two projects to mitigate the harm caused by their past violations.
“EPA continues to deliver cleaner air through rigorous enforcement of the Clean Air Act,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Leaks from valves, pumps and connectors at natural gas processing plants and emissions from compressor stations are a significant source of harmful air pollution. We will continue to hold these companies accountable and work to reduce these unlawful emissions into the atmosphere.”
"It is important that facilities comply with Clean Air Act requirements to ensure that people in the surrounding communities are able to enjoy healthy air quality," said EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman. “Today’s agreement is a win for the people of Alabama and demonstrates our collective dedication to pursue violations of laws that are critical to protecting public health and bring companies into compliance.”
The other facilities covered by the settlement are:
- Ignacio natural gas processing plant on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation near La Plata County, Colorado;
- Parachute Creek natural gas processing plant in Parachute, Colorado;
- Willow Creek natural gas processing plant in Rifle, Colorado;
- Conway Fractionator plant in McPherson, Kansas;
- Larose natural gas processing plant in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana;
- Paradis Fractionation plant in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana;
- Harrison Hub Fractionation Plant in Scio, Ohio;
- Kensington natural gas processing plant in Kensington, Ohio;
- Markham natural gas processing plant near Markham, Texas;
- Moundsville Fractionator plant and Oak Grove natural gas processing plant in Moundsville, West Virginia;
- Fort Beeler gas processing plant in Cameron, West Virginia;
- Echo Springs natural gas processing plant in Wamsutter, Wyoming; and
- Opal natural gas processing plant in Opal, Wyoming
The settlement was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado along with a complaint that alleges the companies violated leak detection and repair requirements in federal, state and tribal clean air laws, resulting in excess emissions of VOCs, which lead to the formation of ground-level ozone, and other harmful pollutants like methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere. Ozone contributes to serious public health concerns, including respiratory illness, aggravation of existing heart disease, and temporary breathing difficulty for people with asthma. Young children and the elderly are especially sensitive to these impacts.
Under the settlement, the companies will improve existing and/or install new control technologies that minimize VOC emissions at the 15 natural gas processing plants. The companies agreed to use optical gas imaging technology to improve the visual detection of leaks, and committed to conducting audits, reviewing compliance with leak detection and repair requirements, repairing leaking equipment faster and improve staff training for leak detection and repair. When fully implemented, the overall settlement will reduce ozone-producing air pollution by an estimated 696 tons per year and greenhouse gases by 29,350 tons per year.
The companies further agreed to implement two projects to mitigate the harm caused by their past violations and the resulting excess emissions. Williams will perform equipment leak monitoring and repair leaks at 80 compressor stations in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming that are not otherwise subject to leak detection and repair requirements. Harvest will evaluate the flare equipment at the Ignacio Gas Plant located on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation and, if necessary, install new monitoring equipment for optimal flare performance and control efficiency.
US Department of Labor Finds Mississippi Farm Willfully Disregarded Safety Standards after South African Guest Worker Suffocates in Storage Bin
Had federal workplace safety regulations been followed at a LeFlore County soybean farm, a South African teenager employed by its operator would have returned home and not suffocated inside a grain bin in October 2022.
After the 19-year-old, two co-workers and their supervisor climbed into a storage bin to unclog it, the soybeans inside shifted, trapping and then engulfing them in seconds. When emergency responders arrived, they cut a hole in the storage bin's side to free the workers but needed five hours to recover the deceased worker.
Three of the workers involved in the incident were South African citizens, brought to work in LeFlore County under the H-2A temporary agricultural workers visa program.
Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that Bare Bones Farms in Greenwood willfully violated federal law by failing to ensure that the employees wore full body harnesses connected to a lifeline while inside the soybean bin, which exposed them to deadly engulfment hazards.
Investigators also learned the company failed to train employees on general safety precautions, including preventative measures for bin-entry procedures, and did not make sure workers de-energized the equipment and machinery before entering the soybean storage bin.
OSHA also cited the farm's operator with serious violations for not having a written respiratory protection program for employees required to wear a respirator, and for not providing a medical evaluation, a fit test or training for workers required to wear respirators as they loaded and unloaded soybeans.
OSHA has proposed $90,182 in penalties for the violations.
"Well-known safety standards that protect people from the grave dangers of working in grain bins have been in place for decades, and yet Bare Bones Farms jeopardized the lives of its employees by ignoring federal regulations," said OSHA Area Director Courtney Bohannon in Jackson, Mississippi. "As a result, the life of a young man who traveled more than 8,500 miles to work in the U.S. ended tragically."
Rules and procedures for workers entering grain bins and safety procedures that all workers must follow have been in effect since 1988. In 2021, 38 percent of reported grain engulfments turned deadly because employers failed to follow required safeguards.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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