New Silica Rule Begins June 23rd

May 28, 2018

On June 23, OSHA's Silica Rule becomes fully enforceable and on or before the 23rd, you must have implemented a total dust control solution to combat the hazards associated with respirable crystalline silica exposure.

OSHA's standard cuts the acceptable exposure limit roughly in half to 50 μg/m3 and encourages a 75% reduction for optimal levels. The rule requires you to implement the following requirements:

  • Comprehensive exposure control plan
  • Exposure assessment
  • Engineering and work practice controls
  • Housekeeping
  • Medical surveillance and record keeping
  • Regulated areas and PPE
  • Communication of hazards


NIOSH and FDA Join Forces to Improve Premarket Process for Facepiece Respirators

In a collaborative effort to harmonize regulatory oversight of N95 filtering facepiece respirators, or N95s, the NIOSH and the FDA have joined forces to help reduce duplicative premarket processes for N95s used in healthcare settings.

On May 17, 2018, FDA published a final order in the Federal Register to exempt a subset of N95s intended for use in healthcare from premarket notification requirements subject to conditions and limitations. Upon publication of the final order, NIOSH and FDA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides a framework for efficient and coordinated regulatory oversight between FDA and NIOSH and outlines the agencies’ mutually agreed upon review process.

Subject to the conditions and limitations of exemption outlined in the final order, certain N95s will be exempt from FDA premarket notification requirements which means that manufacturers will now be able to submit a single application to NIOSH, rather than applications to both FDA and NIOSH prior to marketing their product. Previously, all N95s intended for use in healthcare needed clearance/approval from both agencies.

“The FDA action is the first step in streamlining an approval process that was redundant and burdensome,” said Maryann D’Alessandro, director of NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory. “NIOSH will continue to ensure these respirators provide the expected performance levels and are safe for their intended use.”

In accordance with the MOU, NIOSH will now evaluate the manufacturer’s test data for biocompatibility, flammability, and fluid resistance for conformity to relevant standards during its approval process, tasks previously performed by the FDA.

As part of the conformity assessment process, NIOSH will conduct post-market audits that will involve tests for flammability and fluid resistance for a sample of products in accordance with the appropriate federal and consensus standards. This will ensure the products continue to conform to the approved conditions.

NIOSH will begin accepting applications to implement this process on July 2, 2018 for those manufacturers intending to submit N95 filtering facepiece respirators for approval in healthcare settings. Consistent with current practices, respirators reviewed under this process are intended to be used in accordance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) respiratory protection standard requirements.

NIOSH has published related research on respirator filtration on the NIOSH Science Blog and fluid resistance in the American Journal of Infection Control.

NIOSH is responsible for approval of N95s intended for occupational use. The authority is granted to NIOSH in accordance with standards established in 42 CFR Part 84. NIOSH also addresses quality assurance requirements for the manufacturing of respiratory protective equipment.

The Places in the U.S. Where Disaster Strikes Again and Again

In the last 16 years, parts of Louisiana have been struck by six hurricanes. Areas near San Diego were devastated by three particularly vicious wildfire seasons. And a town in eastern Kentucky has been pummeled by at least nine storms severe enough to warrant federal assistance. These places are part of a small fraction of the United States that has sustained most of the damage from major natural disasters, forming a pattern of destruction concentrated in particular areas.

New Studies Confirm A Surge in Coal Miner’s Disease

More coal miners in central Appalachia have suffered the advanced stages of the deadly disease black lung than previous government research has found, and more miners working in the region have earlier stages of the disease. Those are two of the findings in a bundle of studies just released, which focus on the epidemic of black lung disease first reported by NPR in 2016.

Toxic City: Botched Jobs

As part of its “Toxic City” series, the Inquirer and Daily News investigated environmental hazards in Philadelphia district schools. It found that the district can take months, even years, to address reported hazards that can make children sick — peeling lead paint, deteriorating asbestos, mold, rodent infestations, leaking roofs and pipes. This article focuses on recent issues with carbon monoxide poisoning among students at a Philadelphia school.

Calls Impersonating CSB Investigators

Law enforcement officials have become aware of a recent wave of scams where callers identify themselves as a federal officer and instruct people to provide confidential information to avoid fines. These phone calls are fraudulent. Federal agencies do not call or e-mail individuals threatening them to provide personal information or send money. If you have been contacted by someone claiming to be a representative from the CSB, please contact

You can learn about other common scams by visiting and learn about ways to reduce your risk of being scammed:

Chemical Safety Board Chair has Resigned

Three years into her five-year term as chairwoman of the Chemical Safety Board, Vanessa Allen Sutherland announced she will step down from the independent investigatory agency at the end of June. Southerland was named by President Obama in March 2015 having served as chief counsel for the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Her temporary successor will be selected by the remaining three board members, unless and until the White House nominates and the Senate confirms a new chairperson.

Chair Sutherland released the following statement, “I am saddened to leave the wonderful mission and incredible work of the CSB. This mission is unique and critically important because we are the only agency conducting independent, comprehensive root cause chemical incident investigations.  As we continue to recognize the agency’s 20th anniversary of operations, we still have much work to do to achieve our vision of a nation safe from chemical disasters. And I️ am absolutely certain that this team, and future hires, will both excel in execution and outshine our prior efforts.  I’m fortunate to have been a part of the work.”

Almost $150K Proposed Penalty for Lead Exposure at C&D Technologies 

OSHA cited C&D Technologies, Inc. for exposing employees to lead and failing to implement an effective lead management program. The Milwaukee battery manufacturer faces proposed penalties of $147,822 for two repeated and six serious violations.

OSHA inspected the facility and determined that 14 employees were exposed to airborne lead at levels 11 times the permissible exposure limit. The company failed to implement sufficient controls to prevent exposure; monitor ventilation for the presence of lead; post warning signs in work areas that exceeded the permissible exposure limit; provide respiratory protection; install machine guarding; and guard floor holes. OSHA cited the company for similar violations in 2010.

“Employers are required to continually evaluate their facilities for hazards and use the proper safety controls and equipment to keep their worksites safe and healthful,” said Chris Zortman, OSHA Milwaukee Area Director. “This company failed to protect their employees from the serious risks of lead exposure.”

Webinar Session III: Modernizing Safety Testing

In the third session, the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) Risk e-Learning webinars on New Approaches and Alternatives for Toxicity Testing, presenters will discuss new and emerging strategies for chemical safety evaluation. This will include new and emerging in vivo, in vitro, and in silico models to address population variability, and how in vitro high-throughput assays can provide useful information for hazard assessment of complex mixtures. The webinar will be held on May 31, 2018, from 1:00-3:00 pm ET.

Maximum Penalty Proposed for Fatal Accident at Florida Utility Worksite

Douglas N. Higgins Inc., a South Florida utility company, has been cited by OSHA after an employee suffered fatal injuries at a Naples Park worksite. The company faces $162,596 in proposed penalties, the maximum allowed.

The employee suffered the fatal injuries when a steel plate fell on him as he installed sewer lines. OSHA cited the company for permitting employees to work in a trench without adequate cave-in protection; failing to provide safe entry and exit from a trench, perform atmospheric testing, and train employees on signals used when moving trench boxes; and allowing employees to use defective equipment to hoist a compactor. The Agency cited the company for a similar violation in January 2017 after three employees succumbed to toxic gases while working in a manhole.

“Employers have a responsibility to ensure a working environment free from recognized hazards,” said Condell Eastmond, OSHA Fort Lauderdale Area Office Director. “This company’s continued failure to protect and train their employees on well-known hazards resulted in another preventable tragedy.”

P&S Paving Inc. Faces $138,927 in Proposed Penalties for Trench Hazards 

OSHA cited P&S Paving, Inc., a Daytona Beach underground utility construction company, for exposing employees to cave-in hazards. The company faces $138,927 in proposed penalties.

OSHA investigators cited the company for allowing employees to work in a trench without cave-in protection. The company was also cited for failing to train employees on trench hazards, and provide a safe means to enter and exit the trench. The investigation was part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.

“Disregarding recognized hazards can endanger workers’ safety,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA Jacksonville Area Office Director. “Employers performing trenching and excavation are required to use appropriate protective systems to prevent a serious or fatal cave-in.”

Partnership Formed for Workplace Safety at Federal Worksite  

OSHA and Brandenburg Industrial Service Company have signed a strategic partnership to promote worker safety and health during the demolition of the former Bannister Federal Complex in Kansas City.

The partnership will identify common construction hazards such as falls, struck-by, caught-in, and electrocution; and encourage worker participation in employer safety and health programs. The partners will also educate employees and employers on best practices to improve safety and health.

“Our partners share a common goal to provide a safe environment for workers during this project,” said Karena Lorek, OSHA Kansas City Area Office Director. “The participants recognize that a comprehensive safety and health program can have a positive impact on employee safety in a high-hazard work environment.”

Supporting the partnership are Bannister Transformation and Development; CenterPoint; the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 101; Kissick Construction Co.; Laborers International Union of North America, Local 264; Olsson Associates; S.S. Papadopulos and Associates; and Superior Bowen.

Skin Cancer Prevention Reminders as Summer Season Begins 

The EPA, joined by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention (NCSCP), is recognized the Friday before Memorial Day, as “Don’t Fry Day.” This year marked the 10th anniversary. EPA, along with NCSCP, encouraged Americans to take simple steps throughout the summer to protect their health and prevent skin cancer and eye damage caused by the sun’s harmful rays.

“As the weather gets warm and Americans spend more time outdoors, the risk for ultraviolet damage of the skin increases. We want to remind all Americans to be smart in the sun this holiday weekend and throughout the year,” said Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum. 

According to the American Cancer Society, more Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined, and in the US there is approximately one skin cancer-related death every hour. Over 90% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and indoor tanning, so it is also one of the most preventable cancers.

Reduce risk of skin cancer by:

  • Seeking shade when outside during mid-day hours;
  • Wearing clothing that protects skin from UV rays;
  • Generously applying sunscreen, and reapplying often;
  • Being aware that reflective water, snow, and sand intensify UV exposure, and
  • Avoiding tanning beds and minimizing sunbathing.


Since 1998, the NCSCP has been a trusted resource for the nation’s skin cancer prevention community with more than 45 organizations, agencies, and associations, including EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Core members include the American Academy of Dermatology, American Cancer Society, Melanoma Research Foundation, and Skin Cancer Foundation.

EPA’s UV index app (search for EPA’s UV Index in the iPhone App Store and on Google Play) is a convenient tool to let you know the strength of the sun’s skin cancer-causing UV rays. The app gives daily and hourly UV intensity forecasts for your location, and provides recommendations on sun safety. Be sure to get the app on your smartphone, sign up for a daily UV Index forecast via email, or check the UV Index online.

Improved Workplace Safety Regulations Finalized in Alaska

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Department of Administration have finalized regulations to encourage safe workplaces and compliance with labor laws. The new regulations, which go into effect June 7, ensure law-abiding state contractors are not out-bid by unscrupulous bidders who cut costs by deliberately or repeatedly depriving employees of basic rights, including minimum wage, overtime, workers’ compensation, and a safe work environment.

“Law-abiding contractors should be able to compete on a level playing field,” said Alaska Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas. “These regulations are a win-win for Alaska businesses and workers.”

The regulations fulfill the intent of Administrative Order 286, which was issued by Governor Walker in 2017. The new regulations will ensure the State of Alaska plays a positive role in the marketplace by embedding support for labor rights in the procurement process. Incentivizing labor rights compliance has beneficial ripple effects, since most state government contractors also work in other lines of business. Sustaining and strengthening labor rights enforcement also has positive economic impacts by ensuring wages stay in Alaska and recirculate in the state economy.

Swim Healthy Reminders 

National Healthy and Safe Swimming Week was May 21-27. The Secretaries of Maryland’s Departments of Health, the Environment, and Natural Resources offered swimming safety tips to ensure a safe and healthy swimming experience.

“With Memorial Day approaching, many Marylanders will be heading to the pool or the beach,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Robert R. Neall. “We’re reminding Marylanders to keep swimming safety in mind to prevent injuries and drownings.  We want everyone to swim healthy and stay healthy all year.”

Swimming is one of the most popular sporting and leisure activities. In Maryland, this year’s campaign is aimed at increasing awareness of the simple things people can do to prevent the most common and serious health and safety risks associated with recreational water activities—drownings and injuries, sunburns and potential infections:

  • Never swim alone
  • Always be aware of young children’s activities and whereabouts
  • Use swim vests on all young children at the beach and for weaker swimmers in pools
  • Reapply sunscreen frequently throughout the day
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Don’t swallow pool or beach water
  • Change children’s diapers often to minimize the risk of contaminating water
  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea, or if you have open skin wounds or infections
  • Stay out of the water if it has a strange color
  • Use bug spray
  • Learn how to avoid and to escape rip currents
  • For pool owners, follow package directions when using pool chemicals
  • Save contact information for emergency personnel in your cell phone​


It is easy to stay safe and healthy while enjoying the water.  Keep your family healthy and safe this summer season.

Tips to Avoid Starting Wildfires

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has advised that although the State's ban on brush burning ended May 14, several open burning regulations are still in effect across New York State year-round. Residents are encouraged to use caution when burning brush and other legal materials.

In urban and suburban areas of New York, it is illegal to conduct open burning. It is also illegal to burn garbage, leaves, and leaf piles in New York State year-round.

Residents of towns with fewer than 20,000 residents may burn brush and tree limbs unless prohibited by local law. In towns where the population exceeds 20,000, brush burning is not allowed at any time.

Residents in "fire towns," towns located within the Adirondack and Catskills parks, must obtain a DEC permit to burn. Residents should always check with local authorities first to find out if local law requires a permit or prohibits open fires in their area.

All open burning is prohibited in New York with the following exceptions allowed:

  • Limbs, branches, and brush can be burned May 15 through March 15. Limbs must be less than six inches in diameter and eight feet in length;
  • Campfires less than three feet in height and four feet in length, width, or diameter;
  • Small cooking fires.
  • Cooking fires and campfires cannot be left unattended and must be fully extinguished, and only charcoal or clean, untreated or unpainted wood can be burned. The burning of chemically treated wood such as pressure-treated lumber and plywood is prohibited; and
  • Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires, as well as small fires used to dispose of a flag or religious item.


DEC encourages residents to mulch or compost brush along with other yard waste. In rural areas brush piles can provide habitat for wildlife.

DEC recommends these fire safety tips when burning:

  • Never burn on a windy day;
  • Check and obey all local laws and ordinances;
  • Burn early in the morning when humidity is high and winds are low;
  • Clear all flammable material for a distance of 10 to 15 feet around fire;
  • Keep piles to be burned small, adding small quantities of material as burning progresses;
  • Always have a garden hose, shovel, water bucket, or other means to extinguish the fire close at hand; and
  • When done, drown the fire with water, making sure all materials, embers and coals are wet.


When planning any of fires allowed, residents are encouraged to check the DEC Fire Danger Map rating forecast daily for the 2018 fire season on its website and on the NY Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App available on the DEC website. Currently, fire conditions in the state are at moderate risk.

DEC Forest Rangers assisted fire departments to extinguish 43 wildfires during the ban period March 16 through May 14, 2018. These fires burned a total of 88 acres, and 12 of them (28%) were caused by a debris fire growing out of control. In 2009, the year before the ban was instituted, DEC Forest Rangers extinguished 61 fires (46% of all fires) caused by debris burning that burned a total of 209 acres.

For more information on opening burning and the opening burning regulations fact sheet visit DEC's website.

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