U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Guidance to Clarify its Accidental Release Reporting Rule

By Beeta Lashkari, Eric J. Conn, and Micah Smith

Earlier this month, on September 1, 2022, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) announced the release of a new guidance document about the agency’s still-relatively new Accidental Release Reporting Rule.  The Accidental Release Reporting Rule, which went into effect in March 2020, requires owners and operators of stationary sources to report accidental releases that result in a fatality, a serious injury, or substantial property damage to the CSB within eight hours. Just a few months ago, the CSB published its first list of incidents that had been reported to the agency pursuant to the rule.

Of the new guidance document, CSB Interim Executive Steve Owens said:

“Our goal is to make sure that owners and operators report chemical releases to the CSB as required by law. While many companies already have been complying with the rule and submitting their required reports, this guidance should help resolve any uncertainties about the reporting requirement. If someone is unsure about what to do, they should report, rather than risk violating the rule.”

The new guidance has been a long time coming. Indeed, the agency Continue reading

CSB Releases Accidental Release Reporting Rule Data

By Darius Rohani-Shukla and Beeta B. Lashkari

Last month, the Chemical Safety Board (“CSB”) published its first list of incidents that had been reported to the agency pursuant to its Accidental Release Reporting Rule.

The CSB’s Reporting Rule was published in the Federal Register on February 21, 2020, and took effect a month later, on March 23, 2020.  As we previously reported, the rule requires that owners and operators of stationary sources report accidental releases that result in a fatality, serious injury, or substantial property damage to the CSB within eight hours.  That accidental release report must indicate:

  1. The name and contact information for the owner/operator;
  2. The name and contact information for the person making the report;
  3. The location information and facility identifier;
  4. The approximate time of the accidental release;
  5. A brief description of the accidental release;
  6. An indication whether one or more of the following has occurred:
    • (1) Fire;
    • (2) Explosion;
    • (3) Death;
    • (4) Serious injury; or
    • (5) Property damage.

Continue reading

Process Safety Update: The Latest with OSHA PSM & EPA RMP [Webinar Recording]

On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Micah Smith and Beeta Lashkari presented a webinar regarding Process Safety Update: The Latest with OSHA PSM & EPA RMP.

After the Obama/Biden Administration’s efforts to “modernize” the way the federal government regulates chemical process safety, we saw much that rolled back, stalled, or amended as the Trump Administration implemented a de-regulatory agenda. As the regulatory ping-pong ball bounces back the other direction, the regulated community is left in limbo to see what will become of OSHA’s and EPA’s plans for process safety.

As the Biden Administration begins to make its mark in this arena, we are tracking rulemaking and enforcement from OSHA, EPA and the CSB, and whether and how far these agencies will go back to the previous policies to modernize the applicable regulations.

This webinar reviewed Continue reading

Update about the Chemical Safety Board [Webinar Recording]

On March 16, 2021, Eric J. ConnMicah Smith and Beeta B. Lashkari presented a webinar regarding “Update about the Chemical Safety Board.”

For a small agency, a lot happened at the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (the CSB) last year – and not all related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the CSB promulgated an accidental release reporting rule, requiring employers to report certain chemical incidents to the CSB. Although the rule went into effect last Spring, the CSB set a 1-year enforcement “grace period” to allow time for the regulated community to become familiar with the rule, and for the Agency to develop guidance about the new rule. With the grace period ending later this month, on March 23, 2021, it is critical for employers to understand their new compliance obligations.

In addition, with expired terms, early departures, and the swearing in of a new Chairperson (but no other Board members), the CSB’s Board became a “quorum of one” for the first time, begging questions about its authority to vote on mission-critical work product, such as investigation reports, and its ability to conduct the agency’s business. Although Pres. Biden will likely nominate new Board Members, the Senate confirmation process can be a slog, meaning the CSB may maintain a quorum of one for an extended period.

Participants in this webinar learned about: Continue reading

[Webinar] Update about the Chemical Safety Board

On Tuesday, March 16, 2021 from 1:00 P.M. to 2:15 P.M., join Eric J. ConnMicah Smith and Beeta B. Lashkari for a webinar regarding “Update about the Chemical Safety Board.”

For a small agency, a lot happened at the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (the CSB) last year – and not all related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the CSB promulgated an accidental release reporting rule, requiring employers to report certain chemical incidents to the CSB. Although the rule went into effect last Spring, the CSB set a 1-year enforcement “grace period” to allow time for the regulated community to become familiar with the rule, and for the Agency to develop guidance about the new rule. With the grace period ending later this month, on March 23, 2021, it is critical for employers to understand their new compliance obligations.

In addition, with expired terms, early departures, and the swearing in of a new Chairperson (but no other Board members), the CSB’s Board became a “quorum of one” for the first time, begging questions about its authority to vote on mission-critical work product, such as investigation reports, and its ability to conduct the agency’s business. Although Pres. Biden will likely nominate new Board Members, the Senate confirmation process can be a slog, meaning the CSB may maintain a quorum of one for an extended period.

Participants in this webinar will learn about: Continue reading

Announcing Conn Maciel Carey’s 2021 OSHA Webinar Series

ANNOUNCING CONN MACIEL CAREY’S
2021 OSHA WEBINAR SERIES

As the Trump Administration hands over the keys to President-Elect Biden and a new Democratic Administration, OSHA’s enforcement and regulatory landscape is set to change in dramatic ways, from shifting enforcement priorities, budgets and policies, to efforts to reignite OSHA’s rulemaking apparatus. Following an Administration that never installed an Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, handled COVID-19 enforcement with a light touch, pumped the brakes on almost all rulemaking in general, and declined to issue an emergency COVID-19 standard in particular, the pendulum swing at OSHA is likely to be more pronounced than during past transitions. Accordingly, it is more important now than ever before to pay attention to OSHA developments.

Conn Maciel Carey’s complimentary 2021 OSHA Webinar Series, which includes (at least) monthly programs put on by the attorneys in the firm’s national OSHA Practice, is designed to give employers insight into developments at OSHA during this period of flux and unpredictability.

To register for an individual webinar in the series, click on the link in the program description below. To register for the entire 2021 series, click here to send us an email request, and we will register you.  If you missed any of our programs from the past seven years of our annual OSHA Webinar Series, click here to subscribe to our YouTube channel to access those webinars.


2021 OSHA Webinar Series – Program Schedule

OSHA’s 2020 in Review
and 2021
Forecast

Thursday, January 14th

Respiratory Protection Rules –
Top 5 Risks and Mistakes

Wednesday, May 12th

Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19
Emergency Temporary Standard

Tuesday, January 26th

What to Expect from DOL Under
a Biden Administration

Wednesday, June 16th

What Employers Need to Know
About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Thursday, February 11th

Mid-Year Review of OSHA Developments

Thursday, July 22nd

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Administration: OSHA Considerations

Thursday, February 18th

OSHA VPP and other Cooperative Programs

Tuesday, August 24th

Update About the
Chemical Safety Board

Tuesday, March 16th

Update about OSHA’s Electronic Recordkeeping Rule

Wednesday, September 8th

Annual Cal/OSHA Enforcement
and Regulatory Update

Tuesday, March 23rd

OSHA Issues During
Acquisitions and Divestitures

Thursday, October 7th

COVID-19 OSHA Enforcement
and Regulatory Update

Wednesday, April 20th

Updates about OSHA’s PSM
Standard EPA’s RMP Rule

Tuesday, November 16th

Recap of Year One of the Biden Administration

Tuesday, December 14th

See below for the full schedule with program descriptions,
dates, times and links to register for each webinar event.

Continue reading

BREAKING – CSB Issues Final Accidental Release Reporting Rule

By Eric J. Conn and Beeta Lashkari

Last week, on the day of a federal district court-mandated deadline — Wednesday, February 5, 2020 — the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (the CSB) announced its Final Rule on Accidental Release Reporting. The CSB posted a prepublication version of the Final Rule last week, on February 5th.  The official version should be published in the Federal Register within the next few days.

As we previously reported, on December 12, 2019, the CSB issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its new reporting rule, which set out the circumstances when facility owners and operators are required to file reports with the CSB about certain accidental chemical releases and what must be communicated in the reports.Picture1

As stated in the NPRM, the purpose of the rule is “to ensure that the CSB receives rapid, accurate reports of any accidental release that meets established statutory criteria.”

The rule requires owners and operators of stationary sources to report accidental releases that result in a fatality, a serious injury, or substantial property damage to the CSB within eight hours.  The specific information required to be provided in the accidental release report includes:

  1. A brief description of the accidental release;
  2. Whether the release resulted in a fire, explosion, death, serious injury, or property damage;
  3. The number of fatalities and/or serious injuries, and the estimated property damage at or outside the stationary source;
  4. The name of the material involved;
  5. The amount of the release; and
  6. Whether the accidental release resulted in an evacuation order impacting members of the general public and other details associated with the evacuation.

Issuance of the CSB’s reporting rule has been a long time coming.  Although the CSB did not become operational until 1998, its enabling legislation – the Clean Air Act Amendments – was enacted in 1990.  That statute, from nearly thirty years ago, expressly required the agency to issue a rule governing the reporting of accidental releases to the CSB.  Although the CSB submitted an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Chemical Release Reporting in 2009, that effort died on the vine.  Accordingly, the CSB has never had its own reporting rule, relying instead on other sources to receive incident information.  In February 2019, however, Continue reading

Coalition to Comment on CSB’s Proposed Accidental Release Reporting Rule

Last week, the CSB issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its accidental release reporting rule, which establishes the criteria for when facility owners and operators are required to report to CSB accidental chemical release incidents and what must be included in those reports.  Here is a link to an article we posted that summarizes the CSB’s proposal and background about the situation. If promulgated, the rule would require owners and operators of stationary sources to report to the CSB within four hours any accidental chemical releases that results in a:

  • Fatality;
  • Serious injury; or
  • Substantial property damage.

A release reporting rule was mandated by the CSB’s enabling statute (decades ago), but the Agency had never issued such a rule. In February of this year, however, a federal court ordered the CSB to promulgate a final reporting rule within 12 months of the  court’s ruling—by mid-February 2020.  With CSB waiting until the 11th hour to publish this NPRM, interested stakeholders have only a very small window to make sure their concerns about the proposed rule are heard.  Comments are due to the CSB by January 13, 2020, and because the deadline to promulgate the rule is court-mandated, there likely will be no extension of the comment period.

Although the proposal indicated that CSB contemplated some of the duplicative effort that a separate CSB reporting rule would require, the proposed rule does not come close to addressing employers’ legitimate concerns about the burden this reporting requirement will place on employers at a time when their attention should be focused on emergency response. To compound the problem, the scope of reportable incidents and criteria for reportability aligns neither with CSB’s investigative jurisdiction nor with other agencies’ already-existing reporting requirements, and, as formulated, could create disincentives for robust internal reporting of incidents.

Conn Maciel Carey’s national OSHA • Workplace Safety Practice Group is coordinating an ad hoc coalition of employers to prepare a set of comments to submit to the CSB. Continue reading

CSB Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for New Accidental Release Reporting Rule

By Eric J. Conn and Beeta B. Lashkari

Earlier this week, on December 12, 2019, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for its long-awaiting chemical incident reporting rule, which sets out the circumstances when facility owners and operators are required to file reports with the CSB of accidental chemical releases and what must be communicated in the reports.

As stated in the NPRM, the purpose of the rule is “to ensure that the CSB receives rapid, accurate reports of any accidental release that meets established statutory criteria.”

If promulgated, the rule would require owners and operators of stationary sources (chemical facilities) to report  accidental releases that result in a fatality, serious injury, or substantial property damage to the CSB within four hours.  The proposed rule also identifies the specific information required to be included in the accidental release report:

  1. A brief description of the accidental release;
  2. Whether the release resulted in a fire, explosion, death, serious injury, or property damage;
  3. The number of fatalities and/or serious injuries, and the estimated property damage at or outside the stationary source;
  4. The name of the material involved;
  5. The amount of the release; and
  6. Whether the accidental release resulted in an evacuation order impacting members of the general public and other details associated with the evacuation.

Importantly, recognizing that some or all of this information may not be known within four hours of an accidental release, the CSB decided to  include the qualifier — “if known” — for much of the information that would be required in the report.

If, however, the owner/operator submits a report to Continue reading

Conn Maciel Carey Adds Former Attorney-Investigator from the Chemical Safety Board to its OSHA Practice

Conn Maciel Carey LLP, a boutique law firm with national practices in workplace safety (OSHA and MSHA), labor & employment, and litigation, is pleased to announce that Beeta B. Lashkari has joined the firm as an attorney in its Washington, D.C. office.

Ms. Lashkari, a former attorney-investigator at the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), will advise and represent clients in a wide-range of inspections, investigations, and enforcement actions, including those from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the CSB, and state and local regulators. As one of only four attorney-investigators at the CSB, Ms. Lashkari was involved in several major investigations of chemical accidents.

“Beeta brings a unique array of experience and perspective that will enhance the safety and health law services we provide to employers across all industries, and particularly chemical and petrochemical manufacturers,” said Eric J. Conn, Chair of the firm’s national OSHA practice. “We’ve been busy this year expanding our firm, and Beeta is another superb addition to our already deep bench of OSH law experts.”

Ms. Lashkari will also support the firm’s labor and employment practice group in managing workplace investigations, including Continue reading