New Enforcement Procedures Target Employers Who Ignore OSHA Standards
To address urgent safety and health problems facing Americans in the workplace, OSHA is implementing a new Severe Violator Enforcement Program and increasing civil penalty amounts. Announced in an April 22 news release, the SVEP, which will go into effect by the beginning of June, is intended to focus OSHA enforcement resources on employers who endanger workers by repeatedly demonstrating indifference to their responsibilities under the law. This supplemental enforcement tool includes increased OSHA inspections in these worksites, mandatory OSHA follow-up inspections, and inspections of other worksites of the same employer where similar hazards and deficiencies may be present. For more information, see the SVEP Directive. Several administrative changes to the penalty calculation system in OSHA's Field Operations Manual will also become effective in the next several months. The penalty changes will increase the overall dollar amount of all penalties while maintaining OSHA's policy of reducing penalties for small employers and those acting in good faith.
Spring Regulatory Agenda Includes Plan To Find And Fix Workplace Hazards
OSHA's spring 2010 Regulatory Agenda includes a new standard that would require each employer to implement safety prevention measures tailored to the actual hazards in that employer's workplace. Instead of waiting for an OSHA inspection or a workplace incident to address workplace hazards, the proposed Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) standard would require that employers develop a plan, with worker participation, to identify the hazards present in their worksites and address them before they cause an injury, illness, or death. "We are asking employers to 'find and fix' the hazards in their workplace," said Assistant Secretary Michaels. OSHA will be holding a series of stakeholder meetings to get public input on the development of the I2P2 standard. The meetings will be held June 3 in East Brunswick, N.J., June 10 in Dallas, Texas, and June 29 in Washington, D.C. Those wishing to take part in these meetings can go online to submit a notice of intent to participate. Submission deadlines and options for sending notification by mail or fax can be found in the notice on the stakeholder meetings published in the Federal R
OSHA Makes Data On Toxic Chemical Exposure Available Online
In keeping with the President's memorandum on open government, OSHA has released 15 years of data detailing workplace exposures to toxic chemicals. The data, available on OSHA's Web site, is comprised of measurements taken during the course of inspections, including exposure levels to the hazardous chemicals asbestos, benzene, beryllium, cadmium, lead, nickel, silica, and others. It can offer insights into the levels of toxic chemicals commonly found in workplaces, as well as how exposures to specific chemicals are distributed across industries, geographical areas and time.
Final 2008 BLS Worker Fatality Data Issued
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released a final count of 5,214 worker fatalities that occurred in the U.S. during 2008. Although the final figure was the lowest annual total since the fatality census was first conducted in 1992 it is still tragically high, representing an average of more than 14 worker deaths each day. The final number reflects updates to the 2008 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries file made after the preliminary total of 5,071 was released in August 2009. For more information, read the BLS news release.
EPA Finalizes Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule
On May 13, 2010, the EPA took the next step in regulating and controlling emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). The latest final rule “tailors” the Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements to limit which major stationary sources will be required to obtain PSD permits (40 CFR Parts 51 and 52) and Title V operating permits (40 CFR Part 70) for greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse gases addressed in this rule are:
· Carbon dioxide (CO2),
· Methane (CH4),
· Nitrous oxide (N2O),
· Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs),
· Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and
· Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).
The Agency is establishing a two-stepped, phase-in approach that will start in January 2011. Without this “tailoring” of the permitting thresholds, the CAA would require permitting of sources emitting the statutory level of 100 tons-per-year (TPY) of greenhouse gases. The Agency has stated that this would inundate the permitting authorities (Federal and states).
Step 1 (January 1, 2011 to June 30, 2011)
Major stationary sources currently subject to the PSD permitting program (i.e., those that are newly constructed or modified in a way that significantly increases emissions of a pollutant other than GHGs) will be subject to permitting requirements for their GHG emissions under PSD. For these sources, the permitting requirements for GHGs will kick in if they increase these emissions by at least 75,000 tons per year (TPY) CO2-equivalent emissions (CO2e). The controls for their greenhouse gases must meet the criteria for Best Available Control Technology (BACT).
Sources currently subject to Title V permitting requirements (i.e., newly constructed or existing major sources for a pollutant other than GHGs) will be subject to Title V requirements for GHGs.
During the first step, no source will be subject to permitting due solely to GHG emissions.
Step 2 (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013)
The PSD permitting requirements will apply to new construction projects that emit GHG emissions of at least 100,000 TPY (CO2e), even if they do not exceed the permitting thresholds for any other regulated pollutant. Modifications at existing major sources that increase GHG emissions by at least 75,000 TPY (CO2e) will be subject to permitting requirements, even if they do not significantly increase emissions of any other pollutant.
Title V operating permit requirements will apply to sources based on their GHG emissions even if they would not apply based on emissions of any other pollutant, if they emit at least 100,000 TPY (CO2e).
The EPA has committed to begin another rulemaking in 2011, concluding no later than July 1, 2012, that may permanently exclude certain smaller sources from permitting. The EPA also plans to explore streamlining the GHG permit. The Agency plans to study the impacts of permitting smaller facilities and possibly establishing further rules by April 30, 2016.
The final rule has not yet appeared in the Federal Register. However, a pre-publication version is available from the EPA.