October 30, 2023
Reminder for our customers, OSHA Final Rule on improved tracking of workplace illness and injuries goes into effect January 1, 2024. Below is a reprint from an article we shared in July 2023. If you have questions on whether the new regulations apply to your facility, we can help! Give us a call!
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a final rule that will require certain employers in designated high-hazard industries to electronically submit injury and illness information – that they are already required to keep – to the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The final rule takes effect on Jan. 1, 2024, and now includes the following submission requirements:
- Establishments with 100 or more employees in certain high-hazard industries must electronically submit information from their Form 300-Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and Form 301-Injury and Illness Incident Report to OSHA once a year. These submissions are in addition to submission of Form 300A-Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.
- To improve data quality, establishments are required to include their legal company name when making electronic submissions to OSHA from their injury and illness records.
OSHA will publish some of the data collected on its website to allow employers, employees, potential employees, employee representatives, current and potential customers, researchers and the general public to use information about a company's workplace safety and health record to make informed decisions. OSHA believes that providing public access to the data will ultimately reduce occupational injuries and illnesses.
"Congress intended for the Occupational Safety and Health Act to include reporting procedures that would provide the agency and the public with an understanding of the safety and health problems workers face, and this rule is a big step in finally realizing that objective," explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. "OSHA will use these data to intervene through strategic outreach and enforcement to reduce worker injuries and illnesses in high-hazard industries. The safety and health community will benefit from the insights this information will provide at the industry level, while workers and employers will be able to make more informed decisions about their workplace's safety and health."
The final rule retains the current requirements for electronic submission of information from Form 300A from establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-hazard industries and from establishments with 250 or more employees in industries that must routinely keep OSHA injury and illness records.
The announcement follows proposed amendments announced in March 2022 to regulations for requiring specific establishments in certain high-hazard industries to electronically submit information from their Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and Injury and Illness Incident Report.
EPA Proposal Would Codify Changes to Its Risk Evaluation Process
EPA will soon propose a rule clarifying that its future chemical risk evaluations will not assume that workers always use personal protective equipment, according to an announcement published by the agency on Oct. 19. EPA previously adopted this change two years ago but until now had not sought to support it through rulemaking.
Prior to June 2021, EPA risk evaluations assumed that employers always provided PPE to workers and that workers wore it properly. According to the text of the proposed rule, this assumption was not supported by data on PPE violations and “could lead to an underestimation of the risk to workers.”
The proposal would also formalize EPA’s “whole chemical” approach to risk determination. This change ended the agency’s practice of determining risk based on each “condition of use” for a particular chemical. Under the whole chemical approach, EPA now makes a single risk determination for a substance.
A third change specified in the proposed rule concerns EPA’s consideration of exposures to the general population from air, water, and disposals. EPA had previously excluded these exposures in its risk evaluations on the grounds that they were already regulated, or could be regulated, under statutes such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. The changes announced in June 2021 included an acknowledgment that the agency would no longer exclude these exposures.
EPA Rule Eliminates Exemption That Avoided Reporting on Small Concentrations of PFAS
A rule finalized by EPA on Oct. 20 is intended to improve reporting on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the Toxics Release Inventory, which tracks the management of toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to health and the environment. Information compiled in TRI comes from U.S. facilities that are required to report annually how much of each chemical covered by the TRI program is released into the environment or managed through recycling, energy recovery, and treatment. EPA’s new rule removes an exemption that had allowed facilities to avoid reporting relevant information on PFAS when used in small concentrations. PFAS belong to a class of synthetic chemicals nicknamed “forever chemicals,” which refers to their long-term persistence in humans and the environment.
“PFAS are used at low concentrations in many products,” EPA’s press release explains. “[As] a result of removing this reporting exemption, covered industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, and chemical manufacturing, as well as federal facilities that make or use any of the 189 TRI-listed PFAS, will no longer be able to avoid disclosing the quantities of PFAS they manage or release into the environment.”
Under the new rule, facilities are required to report on PFAS regardless of their concentration in mixtures. According to EPA, removing the previous exemption helps ensure that downstream facilities that purchase mixtures and trade-name products containing PFAS will be informed of the chemicals’ presence.
A pre-publication version of the final rule is available as a PDF from EPA’s website. Supporting materials will be available once the rule is published in the Federal Register. More information about the rule is available from an EPA webpage that outlines changes to TRI reporting requirements for PFAS.
Wisconsin Roofing Contractor Cited Again for Exposing Workers To Fall Hazards
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an inspection with general contractor Brookens Constructions LLC on May 12, 2023, after OSHA inspectors observed a worker shingling a residential roof without fall protection on Ridgeview Drive in Appleton, Wisconsin. The worker was employed by a subcontractor, Eaglevision LLC of Elgin, Illinois.
Inspectors also found the general contractor failed to perform site inspections to make sure its subcontractors followed safety procedures, did not provide eye protection exposing workers to flying debris while using pneumatic nail guns, used a damaged ladder and did not train workers about fall hazards.
Proposed penalties: $132,593.00
Quote: "Our inspector found that Brookens Construction's project manager failed to require subcontractors working on their job sites to comply with safety and health requirements despite spending several hours at each site documenting satisfactory replacement of a residential home roofs," explained OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton, Wisconsin. "Fall hazards are the leading cause of injuries and death in the construction industry. Employers can protect workers by following federal and industry recognized safety standards to protect workers on the job."
European Council Votes To Reduce Asbestos Exposure Limits
The European Union Council formally adopted new rules on protecting workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work. This directive updates the existing rules in line with the latest scientific and technological developments.
The updated rules significantly lower the current asbestos limits and provide for more accurate ways to measure exposure levels to asbestos based on electron microscopy, a more modern and sensitive method.
They also provide for strengthened preventive and protective measures, such as obtaining special permits for asbestos removal and checking if there is asbestos in older buildings before starting demolition or maintenance work. That is all the more important given the EU’s goal to boost energy renovation in the EU, which could lead to 35 million buildings being renovated by 2030.
Asbestos is a highly dangerous substance and remains the leading cause of occupational cancer almost two decades after it was banned in the EU. With the new directive adopted today, thanks to the negotiations concluded by the Swedish presidency, we can better protect workers in the EU while safely embarking on a renovation wave to make our buildings greener and energy-efficient.
Background and next steps
On 28 September 2022, the Commission published a proposal to revise the legislation on asbestos exposure in the workplace as part of a package aimed at ensuring an asbestos-free future for EU citizens.
The Swedish Presidency of the Council reached a provisional agreement on the file with the European Parliament on 27 June 2023. The European Parliament plenary voted in favour of the updated rules on 3 October 2023.
This adoption by the Council is the last step in the legislative process. The new directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Member states will have two years to incorporate all provisions of the directive into their national legislation, except for the introduction of electron microscopy as a measuring method, for which they will have six years. At the end of those six years, they will also have to choose between two exposure limits (depending on whether or not they count thin fibres).
DOE Announces Energy Savings and Celebrates First Year Results of Better Climate Challenge
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published the “2023 Better Buildings Initiative Progress Report,” which summarizes the achievements of DOE’s Better Buildings public and private sector partners since the initiative’s inception in 2011. The report shows that partnering entities, including more than 900 businesses, state and local governments, utilities, housing authorities, and other public and private organizations, to date have collectively saved $18.5 billion through efficiency improvements and cut harmful carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 190 million metric tons— an amount roughly equivalent to combined annual emissions of 24 million homes.
This report also includes the results of the Better Climate Challenge, an initiative that challenges major building portfolio owners and industrial partners to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 50% within 10 years. In year one of the Challenge, partners have reported on nearly 1 billion square feet of buildings and 1,500 industrial plants. Through the Better Buildings Initiative, DOE aims to improve energy efficiency in the commercial, industrial, and residential sectors and accelerate cost-effective decarbonization solutions across the economy—supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to lower energy costs for American families and businesses while addressing the climate crisis.
“To meet President Biden’s ambitious climate goals, the public and private sector need practical pathways to reduce emissions while cutting costs—and that’s exactly what they get from DOE’s Better Building Initiative,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “We’re proud to partner with hundreds of businesses from every pocket of the nation to develop and deploy the innovative solutions we need to combat the climate crisis and secure our clean energy future.”
Public and private organizations in the U.S. spend about $200 billion each year to power commercial buildings and another $200 billion for industrial energy. On average, between 20% and 30% of the nation’s energy is wasted. Through the Better Buildings Initiative, DOE partners with public and private sector stakeholders to pursue ambitious portfolio-wide energy, waste, water, and/or emissions reduction goals and publicly share solutions. By improving building design, materials, equipment, and operations, energy efficiency gains can be achieved across broad segments of the nation’s economy.
DOE’s partners represent almost every sector of the American economy: nearly 30 of the country’s Fortune 100 companies, nearly 20 of the top 50 U.S. employers, 14% of the U.S. manufacturing energy footprint, and 13% of total commercial building space, as well as more than 90 state and local governments. By focusing on effective financing, next-generation solutions, climate leadership, workforce development, and access to information, the Better Buildings Initiative is helping drive energy innovation and improving the lives of the American people.
Highlights from the 2023 report include:
- Demonstrating market leadership: More than 40 organizations reached their Better Buildings, Better Plants, or Better Climate Challenge goal in the past year.
- Advancing decarbonization: In year one of the Challenge, more than 165 Better Climate Challenge partners have committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (scope 1 and 2) by at least 50% over 10 years without the use of offsets. Over the past year, DOE worked with these partners to develop emissions reduction frameworks to guide their efforts at the portfolio level. Partners have reported on nearly 1 billion square feet of buildings and 1,500 industrial plants, and are averaging a 21% reduction in GHG emissions from their base year.
- Highlighting partner progress: DOE launched the Better Climate Challenge Road Show, a video series sharing the successful pathways of Better Climate Challenge partners as they work to cut emissions. Season One featured Nashville, Tennessee-area partners Nissan, Chemours, and Whirlpool. Season Two from Cleveland, Ohio is set to release later this year.
- Reducing financing barriers: Financial Allies have extended more than $32 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects since the start of the program.
- Harnessing emerging technologies:
- The new Industrial Technologies page connects organizations with industrial decarbonization technologies at each stage of the innovation pipeline and provides related funding opportunities.
- Integrated Lighting Campaign participants saved more than 2 million kilowatt hours through the adoption of advanced lighting systems.
- Building Envelope Campaign participants saved approximately 13 million kBtu of energy across 2 million square feet of conditioned floor space by using advanced design, insulation and window technologies.
- Developing the workforce: More than 550 attendees joined Better Plants Virtual In-Plant Trainings, identifying more than $4.6 million in potential energy savings. In addition, more than 200 participants joined Better Plants Bootcamps to learn how to optimize energy use and decarbonize their manufacturing facilities, and more than 200 attendees joined eight Better Buildings Workforce Development Accelerator events in the past year.
- Sharing solutions: Nearly 425,000 visitors explored resources on the Better Buildings Solution Center since 2022, with more than 1.3 million page views, and more than 11,000 attendees joined the Better Buildings Webinar Series.
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