June 26, 2023
During National Pollinator Week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continuing its work to protect pollinators by proposing geographically-specific protections that would limit the use of pesticides in the habitat of 27 endangered and threatened (listed) species, including some pollinators. The Agency is releasing for public comment a draft white paper that describes these proposed mitigation measures as part of its Vulnerable Species Pilot announced last year. EPA is also updating the interactive endangered species StoryMaps released last month to include information on all 27 listed species and the proposed mitigation measures for each.
Pollination is crucial to over 1,200 food crops and provides nourishment to nearly 200,000 different plants that yield various oils, cotton, clean air, seeds, and vegetables. As a result, one-third of the nation’s food supply depends on pollination. Earlier this week, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan issued a proclamation in support of National Pollinator Week. The proclamation recognizes the importance of pollinators to America’s food systems and ecosystems. It also highlights EPA’s work to protect pollinators by developing new strategies like the geographically-specific mitigations discussed below and the importance of continued collaboration with other federal agencies.
“Pollinator health affects biodiversity, ecosystems, global food supplies, and human health,” said EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pesticide Programs Jake Li. “The proposed mitigations we’re announcing today are tailored to where these 27 listed species, including pollinators, live and our new maps make it easy for people to find and visualize this important information.”
White Paper Proposing Mitigations for the 27 Vulnerable Species
EPA is releasing a draft white paper for public comment in support of the Agency’s Vulnerable Species Pilot that identifies draft mitigation measures for the 27 vulnerable listed species, all of which EPA identified as being particularly vulnerable to pesticide exposure. The species include several pollinators like the Poweshiek skipperling butterfly, the rusty patched bumble bee, and the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. Through the pilot, EPA selected these species and developed proposed mitigations and an implementation plan to reduce their exposure to outdoor uses of conventional pesticides.
The pilot species are particularly vulnerable because of a combination of factors including a limited geographic range, small population size, and high susceptibility to environmental stressors such that effects to even a small number of individuals can harm the entire species.
EPA is proposing mitigations to protect areas where species most likely live from being exposed to spray drift and runoff from pesticide-treated areas. Because the pilot species are some of the most vulnerable, EPA designed the mitigation measures to be both broad enough that the mitigations are protective of the pilot species and simple enough that pesticide users can easily understand and implement the mitigations.
This initiative is part of EPA’s work to meet its obligations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and furthers the goals outlined in EPA’s ESA Workplan to provide practical protections for listed species from pesticides. The draft white paper includes:
- How EPA selected the 27 species;
- Proposed mitigations;
- A plan for implementing the proposed mitigations; and
- A proposed plan to consider expanding the pilot to other vulnerable listed species in the future.
The goal of these mitigations is to avoid and minimize exposure, and thus advance EPA's ability to meet its ESA obligations and develop efficiencies for future consultations.
The draft white paper is available in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2023-0327 for public comment for 45 days.
Additional StoryMaps on Endangered Species
EPA also continues to advance pollinator and other vulnerable species outreach efforts through StoryMaps
to raise public awareness about protecting endangered species from pesticides. Last month, EPA released StoryMaps for 11 pilot species. This week, the Agency is updating these StoryMaps to add 16 additional pilot species and include information on the proposed mitigations announced today.
These StoryMaps use an interactive format to describe the pilot species, their habitats, and why they are potentially at risk from pesticide exposure. These StoryMaps offer the unique ability to convey geospatial information about the location of these species and the proposed protections identified. For example, users can zoom in on the maps to view specific locations that may be of interest to them (e.g., where pesticide restrictions may apply to protect each species). Engaging the public and stakeholders through maps, other visuals, and narratives can help convey complex information in an easy-to-understand manner, offering a greater sense of place-based mitigations for listed species.
Federal Investigators Find JBS Foods Failed To Protect Green Bay Plant Worker from Amputations by Ignoring Required Safety Standards
Federal safety inspectors responded to a Wisconsin employer’s report of an amputation found workers at a Green Bay beef processing plant exposed to multiple hazards, including inadequate guards to protect employees from machines in operation.
Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigating a December 2022 injury at JBS Green Bay Inc. found the worker suffered crushing injuries to his right index and middle fingers while removing a shackle from a cow moving down a trolley line. Agency officials also found that JBS failed to ensure that there was adequate guarding in place on the trolley line to protect workers from pinch points.
OSHA cited JBS Green Bay Inc. for four repeat, four serious and two other-than-serious violations. Other infractions were related to lockout/tagout, fall and electrical hazards and hazard communication. The agency proposed $227,786 in penalties.
"Unfortunately, injuries to workers in the meat processing industry are common but they can be prevented when required safety procedures are followed," explained OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton, Wisconsin. "JBS Foods is well aware of these typical industry hazards and of their legal obligation to provide employees with a safe and healthful workplace."
OSHA expanded the inspection under its Local Emphasis Program for Wisconsin’s food manufacturing industry instituted in April 2022. LEPs are created when OSHA sees industry injury rates exceed averages. Food manufacturing workers often face hazards related to improper machine guarding and lockout/tagout failures that expose them to serious injury, illness and death.
Headquartered in Greeley, Colorado, JBS Foods is a leading producer of beef, poultry and pork production, with operations in the U.S., Australia and Canada. Its products are sold under dozens of brand names including Swift, Primo and Pilgrims in the U.S. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of JBS S.A. in Brazil, the world’s largest processor of fresh beef and pork, with more than $50 billion in annual sales.
Hostess Brands Faces $298K in Penalties after Federal Investigators Find Company’s Safety, Training Failures Led to Worker’s Amputation Injury
A 29-year-old worker suffered the amputation of a fingertip while reassembling a pump at a Hostess Brands LLC facility in Chicago, an injury the employer could have prevented by ensuring to shut down and lockout the equipment to prevent it from unexpectedly starting during maintenance, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found.
Inspectors with the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated after the company reported the December 2022 injury and found the employer did not train workers on lockout/tagout procedures.
The agency also noted Hostess Brands failed to make sure shafts, sprockets and moving parts on equipment such as a dough mixer, coolers, icing and wrapping stations and box stoppers had required guarding in place to protect workers from contact with pinch points and moving parts.
OSHA inspectors cited the company for one willful violation, one repeat violation and five serious violations. The company faces $298,010 in proposed penalties.
After the December injury, OSHA expanded its inspection under the National Emphasis Program on Amputations for Manufacturing Industries. The program focuses on many hazards that can lead to serious injuries, illnesses and deaths.
"OSHA frequently finds that amputations and other injuries occur when manufacturers fail to make sure machine safety procedures are followed and employees are trained properly," said Chicago North OSHA Area Director Sukhvir Kaur in Arlington Heights. "Employers can spare their employees these kinds of painful injuries by complying with OSHA and industry-recognized safety standards."
Since 2018, OSHA has inspected Hostess Brands 12 times in Georgia, Illinois and Kansas and has cited them for failing to protect employees' safety and health. In some of these investigations, the agency identified some of the same hazards identified in Chicago.
Hostess Brands LLC is a subsidiary of Hostess Brands Inc., based in Lenexa, Kansas, and is one of the nation's leading snack food makers. The company produces well-known packaged snack products, including doughnuts, cupcakes, cookies and wafers. The publicly traded company reports annual sales of $1.4 billion and employs about 3,000 workers in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, and in Ontario, Canada.
Substances Used in Inks and Toners, Production of Plastic Products Added to Hazardous Chemicals List by ECHA
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced on June 14 the addition of two new hazardous chemicals to its Candidate List of substances of very high concern for authorization. The substances are diphenyl(2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl)phosphine oxide, a chemical with a variety of consumer uses including in inks and toners, coating products, photo-chemicals, polymers, adhesives and sealants, putties, and modeling clay; and bis(4-chlorophenyl) sulphone, which is used in the manufacture of plastic products, chemicals, and rubber products. Details about these substances—including hazard classification and labeling information and properties of concern—are available from “infocards” published by ECHA.
The agency’s infocard for diphenyl(2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl)phosphine oxide states that it is suspected to be toxic to reproduction and that a majority of companies that have submitted data to ECHA on the substance agree it is skin sensitizing. The second chemical, bis(4-chlorophenyl) sulphone (infocard), was identified as a substance of very high concern due to its very persistent and very bioaccumulative hazardous properties. PubChem, the open chemistry database of the National Institutes of Health, describes diphenyl(2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl)phosphine oxide as being suspected of damaging fertility. The PubChem entry for bis(4-chlorophenyl) sulphone states that it may be harmful by ingestion or inhalation and may cause irritation. In addition, bis(4-chlorophenyl) sulphone “emits very toxic fumes of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, chlorine, sulfur oxides and hydrogen chloride gas” when it is heated to decomposition, PubChem notes.
The Candidate List now contains 235 substances. Identifying a chemical as a substance of very high concern and including it in the Candidate List is the first step of the authorization procedure under REACH, the European Union’s Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals.
EPA Settles with Three Honolulu Facilities To Prevent Oil Spills
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has entered into Expedited Settlement Agreements with Hawaii Gas, Sunbelt Rentals, and Pacific Biodiesel Technologies for failing to comply with Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements at their Honolulu facilities. The SPCC requirements prevent oil from reaching navigable waters, shorelines, and requires plans to contain oil spills.
“Now more than ever, facilities that manage oil on Oahu must not shortchange spill prevention requirements,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “The Expedited Settlements process allows facilities to quickly fix relatively minor compliance issues, be fully prepared to respond to an oil spill at their facility, and avoid large penalties.”
EPA found that:
- Hawaii Gas failed to conduct regular inspections of their tanks and containment.
- Sunbelt Rentals did not have an SPCC plan in place.
- Pacific Biodiesel Technologies did not have a fully compliant SPCC Plan (certified by a professional engineer).
Failure to implement measures required by the SPCC Rule can threaten public health or the welfare of fish and other wildlife, public and private property, shorelines, habitat, and other living and nonliving natural resources. Specific prevention measures include developing and implementing spill prevention plans, training staff, and installing physical controls to contain and clean up oil spills.
The expedited settlement process gives facilities the ability to resolve their compliance issues within 30 days after notice from EPA.
Federal Investigators Find Alabama Tire Shop Did Not Follow Procedures To Protect Workers from Rim, Tire Failures After Fatal Explosion
Federal workplace safety inspectors have determined the operator of a southern Alabama tire shop could have prevented a 45-year-old mechanic's fatal injuries by following required safety standards.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the tire service mechanic and an apprentice had just inflated a tractor tire after mounting it on its rim at Neal Tindol Tire LLC in Opp on Jan. 18, 2023, when seconds later the tire exploded as the mechanic leaned over it to unhook the air compressor's hose. The tire struck the mechanic before flying upward, breaking through the ceiling and landing on the roof.
OSHA inspectors learned the air compressor the two workers used had been set to inflate the tire at 110 pounds per square inch units of pressure when the tire that exploded had a maximum load-carrying capacity of 35 pounds per square inch.
The agency determined that the tire shop allowed employees to inflate tires on single-piece rim wheels without using a required restraining device or barrier for protection against tire explosion. In addition, OSHA cited the company for exposing workers to struck-by hazards by allowing workers to remain in an unsafe area while inflating tires, and for failing to prevent workers from inflating tires above the manufacturer’s maximum recommended pressure. Neal Tindol Tire faces $14,511 in proposed penalties for the violations.
"Tire manufacturers' recommendations and federal workplace safety rules exist to prevent tragedies like this one," said OSHA Area Office Director Jose Gonzalez in Mobile, Alabama. "In this case, Neal Tindol Tire failed to make sure required safety procedures to protect employees were in place and followed, leaving the worker's family, friends and co-workers to grieve a needless death."
Operating in Opp since 1998, Neal Tindol Tire LLC specializes in the distribution, sale and installation of new and used tires for cars, pickups, semi-trucks and tractors. The company has a 40,000-square-foot tire storage warehouse.
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