April 04, 2022
OSHA is proposing amendments to its occupational injury and illness recordkeeping regulation, 29 CFR 1904.41
. The current regulation requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness information – that they are required to keep – to OSHA. The agency uses these reports to identify and respond to emerging hazards and makes aspects of the information publicly available.
In addition to reporting their Annual Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, the proposed rule would require certain establishments in certain high-hazards industries to electronically submit additional information from their Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, as well as their Injury and Illness Incident Report.
As part of OSHA's mission to protect workers and mitigate workplace hazards, this rule would improve OSHA's ability to use its enforcement and compliance assistance resources to identify workplaces where workers are at high risk. The proposed rule would also advance the department's mission to empower workers by increasing transparency in the workforce.
The proposed rule would:
- Require establishments with 100 or more employees in certain high-hazard industries to electronically submit information from their OSHA Forms 300, 301 and 300A to OSHA once a year
- Update the classification system used to determine the list of industries covered by the electronic submission requirement
- Remove the current requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees not in a designated industry to electronically submit information from their Form 300A to OSHA annually
- Require establishments to include their company name when making electronic submissions to OSHA
Establishments with 20 or more employees in certain high-hazard industries would continue to be required to electronically submit information from their OSHA Form 300A annual summary to OSHA annually.
EPA Requires Companies to Submit Data on Consumer Exposure for Eight Chemicals
A new round of “test orders” issued by EPA last week requires companies to submit data on consumer exposure for six chlorinated solvents and two flame retardants. Test orders, as described under section 4 of the Toxic Substance Control Act, grant EPA the authority to require chemical manufacturers, importers, and processors to develop and submit data to the agency. EPA may issue the orders if it determines that additional information is necessary to determine whether a chemical presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.
The chemicals subject to the agency’s action are the chlorinated solvents 1,1,2-trichloroethane; 1,2-dichloroethane; 1,2-dichloropropane; trans-1,2-dichloroethylene; o-dichlorobenzene; and p-dichlorobenzene; and the flame retardants 4,4’-(1-methylethylidene)bis[2,6-dibromophenol] (also known as TBBPA) and phosphoric acid, triphenyl ester (TPP). These chemicals are among the 20 designated as high priority for risk evaluation under TSCA in December 2019.
The agency is also requiring data on these chemicals related to avian and aquatic environmental hazards. In January 2022, the agency required the submission of data on workers’ inhalation and dermal exposures for the same eight chemicals.
Toxic Perchlorate to Continue To Go Unregulated in Drinking Water
The EPA recently announced it would not regulate perchlorate, a toxic component of rocket fuel associated with brain damage in fetuses and infants, leaving millions of people unknowingly exposed to the chemical through their tap water. The determination affirms a Trump EPA decision to not regulate perchlorate in drinking water.
“The EPA’s failure to protect drinking water from widespread perchlorate contamination is unscientific, unlawful, and unconscionable,” said Erik D. Olson
, Senior Strategic Director for Health at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “The Trump EPA gave perchlorate a pass; it was a bad decision then, and it’s a bad decision now. Tap water across America will remain contaminated by this toxic chemical, which threatens the brain development of babies in the womb, infants, and young children at extremely low levels.”
The Trump EPA relied on a deeply flawed analysis to select a “safe” perchlorate level that is 10 or more times higher than health-based limits set by state authorities who have evaluated the same data. EPA then compared levels of perchlorate in tap water to their unjustifiably high “safe” levels and said there are not a lot of systems exceeding safe levels, so there is no need for regulation of perchlorate. The agency relied primarily upon a two decade-old EPA snapshot of perchlorate levels in tap water and ignored other more recent data from USGS and others showing widespread perchlorate contamination. The Biden EPA has now embraced the Trump Administration’s analysis. While the EPA has determined it will not regulate perchlorate, the announcement includes a few modest steps the Agency will take, including:
- Developing hazardous waste cleanup activities for the open burning and detonation sites where there is serious perchlorate contamination
- Strengthening labeling requirements for sodium hypochlorite which is used to disinfect drinking water which creates perchlorate if stored improperly
- Reviewing and characterizing perchlorate in ambient water after fireworks displays (one of the sources not considered previously by EPA)
- Providing a “web-based toolkit” to advise water systems that have perchlorate contamination
Perchlorate, widely used in rocket fuel and munitions, and also a component of fireworks and certain other industrial chemicals, is the first unregulated drinking water contaminant for which EPA has proposed a standard in more than 25 years under the provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996. The Defense Department (DOD) and its contractors are major users of perchlorate and there are innumerable DOD facilities where perchlorate pollution has been identified. DOD has opposed
strict controls on perchlorate, in an apparent attempt to minimize its cleanup costs.
Since perchlorate is unregulated, there is no federally required monitoring of tap water or requirement to inform a community of contamination. In 2011, the EPA formally decided that perchlorate should be regulated because it is toxic and widespread, with the drinking water of as many as 16 million people contaminated by the chemical. When the Agency failed to develop a standard by the deadline, NRDC sued
, and then secured a court-approved consent decree requiring the EPA to issue a drinking water standard for perchlorate by 2019.
“By refusing to establish a standard or water testing requirements, the EPA decision will also keep members of the public in the dark, without even basic information about whether they are being exposed to perchlorate,” said Olson.
NRDC agreed to extend the court-ordered deadline to 2020 when the Trump Administration asked for additional time. Ignoring the court order, the Trump EPA announced in 2020
that it was purporting to rescind the Obama finding that a standard should be set, contending that EPA’s 2008 health advisory
for perchlorate in drinking water is far more protective of health than needed. NRDC sued the Trump EPA
for refusing to set a standard; that case was held in abeyance with NRDC’s agreement when the Biden Administration said it would review the Trump Administration decision on perchlorate.
The agency says that levels of perchlorate in the two states that have regulated it have come down—ignoring that the health effects data these states relied upon to regulate should drive EPA to set a perchlorate standard far lower (in the single digit parts per billion) than the agency now says is safe. The Trump EPA asserted that a level of 56 parts per billion (ppb) would be safe and admitted that a standard at that level would allow certain kids exposed to perchlorate in drinking water at above this level to have an average IQ loss of two points. Some exposed children will suffer a far greater IQ loss.
Massachusetts and California have set their own drinking water standards of 2 ppb to 6 ppb, respectively, because of inaction at the federal level. EPA now cites the reduction in levels of tap water contamination in those two states as a reason that no national standard is needed, refusing to address the widespread contamination in other states. EPA previously had found that as many as 16 million Americans’ tap water contains perchlorate, though it has not required national monitoring since a one-time snapshot done two decades ago.
The Obama EPA found in 2011 that a perchlorate drinking water standard was needed to protect health from the endocrine disrupting chemical, especially that of vulnerable fetuses and young children. This finding triggered a legal duty to regulate perchlorate. When EPA was slow to issue standards after that finding, NRDC sued
, and a federal judge hearing the case said that EPA needs “a fire lit under them”
to address the urgent problem and issued an order saying EPA had a duty to take action on perchlorate. In response, the agency agreed in a court-approved consent decree
to propose a perchlorate drinking water standard by October 2018 and to finalize it by late 2019. EPA sought extensions, citing the need for more study, and secured a June 2020 deadline.
EPA Released Final Strategic Plan to Protect Public Health, Address Climate Change, and Advance Environmental Justice and Equity
The EPA recently published its final Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-2026 EPA Strategic Plan
to accompany EPA's FY 2023 President’s Budget. The Strategic Plan
provides a roadmap to achieve EPA’s and the Biden-Harris Administration’s environmental priorities over the next four years.
This Strategic Plan furthers the agency's commitment to protecting human health and the environment for all people, with an emphasis on historically overburdened and underserved communities. For the first time, EPA’s final Plan includes a strategic goal focused exclusively on addressing climate change, as well as an unprecedented strategic goal to advance environmental justice and civil rights. At the foundation of the Plan is a renewed commitment to the three principles articulated by EPA’s first Administrator, William Ruckelshaus – follow the science, follow the law, and be transparent – while adding an additional fourth principle: advance justice and equity.
“This final strategic plan is the result of tireless work across EPA to develop a comprehensive strategy that delivers on our mission to protect all people from pollution,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “I’m confident that our plan meets the moment. Our solutions are designed to confront the challenges in front of us, where achieving justice and equity are central to addressing climate change and environmental protection.”
The Strategic Plan outlines seven goals and four cross-agency strategies. The strategies articulate essential ways of working to accomplish EPA’s goals and mission outcomes. The Plan also includes a suite of measures that will help the Agency monitor progress and ensure accountability for achieving its priorities to protect human health and the environment for all Americans.
More information on EPA’s Strategic Plans can be found at: Strategic Plan
GT Metals & Salvage Cited for Repeated Clean Water Act Violations
The EPA recently announced that GT Metals & Salvage LLC of Longview, Washington, has agreed to pay a $50,300 penalty for repeated Clean Water Act
EPA found the company failed to comply with Washington’s Industrial Stormwater General Permit
which resulted in regular discharges of stormwater into ditches that eventually reach the Columbia River. Industrial stormwater
from sites like GT Metals may include metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), fuel oil, hydraulic oil, brake fluids, lead acid, and lead oxides. These pollutants and other debris can harm aquatic life and affect water quality.
During inspections on February 2020, EPA found that the company failed to:
- Develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP);
- Implement best management practices
- Conduct required sampling of discharges
- Conduct monthly visual inspections
- Complete, submit, and maintain records.
“Despite compliance assistance provided by state and local agencies, along with numerous enforcement actions over the past 10 years, it seems the company was unwilling to reach compliance,” said Ed Kowalski, director of EPA Region 10’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “EPA works to protect public health and the environment by limiting pollution in runoff from industrial activities. When companies comply with permits, they’re better equipped to prevent and reduce potential discharge of industrial pollution.”
In an EPA order, GT Metals also agreed to develop a SWPPP, implement best management practices, begin monitoring stormwater
discharges, improve site conditions, and submit reports to EPA demonstrating effective implementation of the requirements of the Industrial Stormwater General Permit.
Redwood City Metal Recycler Ordered to Investigate and Clean Up Toxic Pollution
California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) recently announced that it has ordered
the operators of Sims Metal Management in Redwood City to determine the extent of toxic pollution coming from their facility and to clean it up.
The facility is within two miles of several day care centers, parks, hospitals, schools and homes, and DTSC is concerned about potential health impacts on those populations. The 12-acre recycling and shredding operation is adjacent to Redwood Creek, a public trail and two islands that are part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Redwood Creek leads into San Francisco Bay.
“DTSC has a responsibility to protect communities and the environment from companies and industries that pollute,” said DTSC Director Dr. Meredith Williams. “Metal recycling facilities have drawn our attention because of the potential exposure from harmful materials coming from these types of operations.”
Sims receives, sorts, separates and stores bulk metal scrap for sale and export, and operates a conveyor that deposits the material onto ships.
The business located near the Port of Redwood City has a history of violating hazardous waste laws
, including releasing elevated levels of lead, zinc and cadmium both on- and off-site. As recently as 2019, DTSC inspectors discovered hazardous waste
levels of toxic chemicals in several places within facility grounds. Inspectors also found buildup of light fibrous materials, a hazardous substance, on the facility’s pavement and near its operations.
The investigation and cleanup evaluation will include recent and historical release at the facility, including any impacts from a March 9 fire.
This enforcement order is the latest in a string of similar actions by DTSC against metal recyclers and shredders statewide. Many of these operations are in neighborhoods that suffer from high amounts of pollution, according to CalEnviroscreen
, an online tool that identifies vulnerable communities.
Minnesota Construction Company Violated Stormwater Permit
According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation, Fairview Township and Gladen Construction, Inc., failed to adequately prevent erosion and sediment runoff along a four-mile stretch during construction of the Fairview portion of the Gull Lake Trail project during fall 2021. Nearly 1,500 square feet of sediment, carried by stormwater runoff, was found to have flowed into four different wetlands and a stream that were all adjacent to the trail.
Additionally, thousands of square feet of soil were exposed and not stabilized, thousands of linear feet of sediment control devices were missing, and numerous existing erosion and sediment control devices were in disrepair. In total, agency staff observed eight different violations of the MPCA’s construction stormwater permit
For violating the permit, Fairview Township and Gladen Construction have each paid $16,710 in civil penalties to the MPCA. The parties have also completed a series of corrective actions to recover sediment from the wetlands and stream, and installed and maintained erosion prevention and sediment control best management practices, as required by the permit.
Oregon DEQ Issued Eight Penalties in February for Environmental Violations
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued eight penalties totaling $51,751 in February for various environmental violations. A detailed list of violations and resulting penalties is at https://ordeq.org/enforcement
Fines ranged from $600 to $15,000. Alleged violations included cities not meeting requirements of their wastewater permits, a metal casting company improperly handling hazardous waste and a company performing underground storage tank services without a license.
DEQ issued civil penalties to the following organizations:
- City of Lowell, $2,363, Lowell, wastewater
- City of Seaside, $12,900, Seaside, wastewater
- Forklift Services of Oregon Inc., $8,343, Portland, stormwater
- Millbank Materials USA Ltd., $600, Portland, air quality
- Morgan Truck Body LLC, $7,845, Portland, stormwater
- PCC Structurals Inc., dba PCC Schlosser $15,000, Redmond, hazardous waste
- Peninsula Truck Lines Inc., $2,000, Portland, stormwater
- Petco Inc., $2,700, Milton-Freewater, underground storage tanks
Penalties may also include orders requiring specific tasks to prevent ongoing violations or additional environmental harm.
TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $1,009,637
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved penalties totaling $923,603 against 17 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.
Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: five air quality, two industrial wastewater discharge, one multi-media, one municipal wastewater discharge, three public water system, and three water quality.
Default orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: one agriculture and one air quality.
In addition, on March 29, 2022, the executive director approved penalties totaling $86,034 against 31 entities.
Seattle Construction Management Company Receives ‘Star’ Award
OSHA has certified the Walsh Group, a commercial construction management company in Seattle, as a “Star” employer in the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs.
Now in its 40th year, the VPP is the highest level of OSHA recognition for workplace safety and health excellence.
OSHA announced the designation as part of its recertification of the company in the program. The designation recognizes employers and employees who demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards as well as the development, implementation and continuous improvement of their safety and health management systems.
The Walsh Group employs about 23 people in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
“We applaud the Walsh Group’s exemplary achievement, its designation as a Star Level site in the Voluntary Protection Programs and its commitment to workplace safety and health,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Christopher Adams in Seattle. “The company’s commitment to employee and management engagement – including participation of leadership in meetings focusing on safety and health for all trades and project activities, and extensive job safety and hazard analyses – is exceptional.”
At the time of its recertification, the Walsh Group was working on two commercial construction projects at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
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