President Trump’s nomination of R. Alexander Acosta to be secretary of labor was approved by a Senate committee, even though the nominee’s (confirmation hearing) testimony had left unclear whether he would be more interested in protecting employers’ prerogatives than in guarding workers’ interests.
The majority of occupational safety and health professionals who responded to a survey in last week’s enewsletter about President Trump’s regulatory freeze were in favor of having the newly-issued beryllium standard in effect. Opinions differed on other regulatory issues. When asked what occupational safety and health hazards, if any, should be covered by new regulations, PEL updates were mentioned most.
County Concrete Corp. of East Orange, New Jersey is facing $88,544 in penalties after OSHA inspectors found multiple safety and health violations at the company. Foremost among them: employees were exposed to silica above the permissible limit as they cleaned concrete mixers. OSHA cited County Concrete for these same hazards in 2013.
From an OSHA Letter of Interpretation:
Scenario: An employee is dry cutting concrete in an outdoor, well-ventilated environment that creates a small amount of dust that never approaches the permissible exposure limit (PEL), and the supervisor advises the employee to put a dust mask on.
Question: Does a supervisor advising an employee to put on a dust mask constitute non-voluntary (required) use even though the generated dust amount is below the PEL?
Reply: Respiratory protection is required when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of the employee or whenever respirators are required by the employer.
The Environmental Protection Agency should use new authorities under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act to protect workers and other at-risk groups, advocates say.
Environmental health and union representatives urged the EPA to protect many potentially exposed and susceptible populations during meetings the EPA held in August to discuss rules it must develop under the amended chemicals law.
Employers covered by OSHA’s final rule on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica have until June 23, 2017, to comply with the new construction standard, except for requirements for laboratory evaluation of exposure samples, which begin on June 23, 2018.
OSHA’s final rule on Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline may not be so final after all. During a hearing yesterday by the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections entitled, “Reviewing Recent Changes to OSHA’s Silica Standards,” its chairman, Republican Congressman Tim Wahlberg (MI-07), hinted that Congress may attempt a legislative end run around the regulation.
OSHA has scheduled a public hearing on the agency's proposed rule to amend its existing exposure limits for occupational exposure in general industry to beryllium and beryllium compounds. The hearing will be held Feb. 29, 2016, in Washington, D.C.