OSHA changes its mind, employers must disclose ALL exposure data for CrVI

[tweetmeme]An appeals court told OSHA to explain why it decided to require disclosure to workers only when the PEL for hexavalent chromium was exceeded, and now the safety agency has changed its mind. Most U.S. workers who are exposed to Cr(VI) compounds on the job are welders, according to OSHA.

OSHA published its Occupational Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium final rule on Feb. 28, 2006. The Public Citizen Health Research Group and others challenged it before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that OSHA had to explain why it had decided to require disclosure of exposure results to workers only when their exposures exceeded the PEL for hexavalent chromium, Cr(VI). In a Federal Register notice published Tuesday, the agency announced it has changed its mind and will require disclosure of all exposure results.

OSHA also published a companion direct final rule Tuesday. Unless a significant adverse comment is submitted on the companion direct final rule (Docket No. OSHA-H054a-2006-0064, www.regulations.gov), the change will be in effect. Comments may be submitted until April 15.

Most of the U.S. workers who are exposed to hexavalent chromium compounds while on the job are welders, according to OSHA.

OSHA said it re-examined the rulemaking record after the 3rd Circuit ruled and found no comments or testimony on the issue of whether employees should be notified of all exposure determinations, and it also confirmed that all of its other substance-specific health standards, including standards for lead, arsenic, and methylene chloride exposure, require employers to notify employees of exposures even below the relevant exposure limits.

RCRA-OSHA Training Requirements Overlap

[tweetmeme]There are many different training requirements for facilities owner/operators depending on the industry you serve.  Both EPA and OSHA have detailed training requirements that require substantially the same  curriculums.  For example 40 CFR 262.34(a)(4) states that large quantity generator (LQG) waste management personnel must be trained in accordance with the requirements of 265.16. 40 CFR Parts 264.16 and 265.16, which require facilities to train waste management personnel.  Facility personnel must complete a program of classroom instruction or on-the-job training that teaches them to perform their duties in a way that ensures the facility’s compliance with the requirements of Section 265.

The program must teach facility personnel hazardous waste management procedures (including contingency plan implementation) relevant to the positions in which they are employed.   At a minimum, the program must ensure that employees are able to respond to emergencies and must include training on emergency procedures, equipment and systems.  Personnel must complete the training within six months of employment and take part in annual refresher training. For each employee, the owner or operator must maintain documentation of the job titles, employee names, job description, and the type and amount of training provided.

Similar types of OSHA training requirements also exist; specially those applicable to any facility and those establishing Hazardous Waste Specific Training.  OSHA training requirements that may be applicable to any facility include the Hazard Communication Program (29 CFR 1910.1200), which requires training in the physical and health hazards of chemicals in the work area; protective measures including work practices and personal protective equipment; and an explanation of labeling systems and material safety data sheets (MSDSs).   Also required is Safety and Health Hazards training, which can include training on:

  • Confined Space Entry
  • Lock Out-Tag Out
  • Respirator Use
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Powered Vehicles
  • Fall Protection

Facilities that have the potential for an emergency to occur due to an uncontrolled release of hazardous substances or hazardous raw materials are required to provide training required under HAZWOPER 29 CFR 1910.120 paragraph (q).   Employers who have hazardous waste storage areas must provide training required under either 29 CFR 1910.120 (p)(8) or (q) for those areas.   However, both paragraphs do provide exemptions from the basic requirements if the employer intends to evacuate all employees in the event of and emergency and call in a trained emergency response team.  In this case employers must provide an emergency action plan and training in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.38(a).  The training requirements of 29 CFR 1910.38 are minimal, requiring the training of a sufficient number of persons to assist in the safe and orderly evacuation of employees in the event of an emergency.  Other training may be required depending on the duties and function of the employee.

Facilities that are required to provide training under RCRA can include this training with their OSHA HAZWOPER training without an extension in the number of training hours (per an OSHA policy directive).  The big difference is in how records are kept.  For OSHA, records must merely show the employee name and date of training.  For RCRA, the records required under 264.16(d) and 265.16(d) require much the same.   However, permitted and interim status facilities must maintain documents as specified at 264.15(d)(1) through (3).   In my opinion EPA should consider providing more detailed guidance regarding the crossover between OSHA and RCRA training requirements, taking into consideration the existing OSHA guidance and the need to ensure adequate training of personnel.

If you have specific questions about your facilities training needs, call your nearest OSHA or EPA area office, or contact me, I will be happy to discuss your situation and offer any guidance necessary.

ASSE Urges Haste in Finalizing Hazardous Materials Communication Rule

[tweetmeme]From ASSE Newsroom:
Des Plaines, IL (January 4, 2010) — The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President C. Christopher Patton, CSP, noted in a letter sent recently to Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) David Michaels that ASSE supports the goal of the Hazard Communication proposed rule, a rule that seeks to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are evaluated and communicated to employers and employees. ASSE notes that modifying OSHA’s existing Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is a step forward in harmonizing chemical hazard communications worldwide and will help U.S. employers compete in the international marketplace as well as increasing work safety.“Modifying OSHA’s existing HCS to incorporate major portions of the United Nations’ (UN) Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is necessary to help this nation’s workers deal with the increasingly difficult challenge of understanding the hazards and precautions needed to handle and use chemicals safely in the world marketplace,” Patton wrote. “At the same time, harmonizing hazard communications with GHS will help U.S. employers compete in that marketplace by lessening the burden of conforming with different regulations and by ensuring their products will meet hazard communication requirements in other nations.”

Patton applauded OSHA for its leadership in undertaking the HCS rulemaking and urges every possible step be taken to achieve a final rule as soon as practical.

“However, ASSE is disappointed to see that control banding has been largely ignored in the development of the revised standard,” Patton said.

CB is a technique used to guide the assessment and management of workplace risks. It is a generic technique that determines a control measure (for example dilution ventilation, engineering controls, containment, etc.) based on a range or “band” of hazards (such as skin/eye irritant, very toxic, carcinogenic, etc) and exposures (small, medium, large exposure), according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). It is an approach that is based on two pillars; the fact that there are a limited number of control approaches, and that many problems have been met and solved before. CB uses the solutions that experts have developed previously to control occupational chemical exposures, and suggesting them to other tasks with similar exposure situations. It is an approach that focuses resources on exposure controls and describes how strictly a risk needs to be managed.

“When this nation is so close to harmonization with GHS, it would be unfortunately short-sighted not to take the extra step of incorporating control banding since many of the necessary tools to do so are already included in this rulemaking,” Patton said. “To do so would advance harmonization a significant step further and avoid the need for future rulemaking, which ASSE firmly believes will be necessary as control banding becomes more widely accepted in the international marketplace.”

In his letter, Patton outlined ASSE’s more specific comments concerning issues and questions asked in the rulemaking. Those comments include need and support for the standard; its economic impact and economic feasibility; implementation resources; reducing the impact on small businesses; opposing the exclusion of three physical and health hazard classes and overall hazard classification; label layout; safety data sheets; references – ASSE suggests OSHA reference in the standard a variety of scientific and authoritative references for end users; earlier effective dates; outreach needs; and proposed alternative implementation approaches.

In conclusion, Patton noted, “Harmonizing this nation’s hazard communications with the international marketplace is both a safety and health issue for this nation’s workers and a competitive issue for its employers. Daily, our members experience the reality that we live in a world of commerce that is becoming more and more interconnected. They need the tools to help both the employees and employers with whom they work. To that end, all employers should be required to adopt a revised HCS.”