By Eric J. Conn and Beeta B. Lashkari
For the better part of 2023, OSHA has been working through the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) phase of its rulemaking to produce an Outdoor and Indoor Heat Illness Prevention Standard.
The SBREFA process is conducted by a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel composed of representatives from OSHA, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Office of Advocacy (Advocacy) of the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBAR Panel’s primary role is to collect input from Small Entity Representatives (SERs) and report and on the comments of SERs and the Panel’s findings as to issues related to small entity impacts and significant alternatives that accomplish the agency’s objectives while minimizing the impact on small entities. After the SBAR Panel meetings conclude, the panel writes and issues a report, which is delivered to the Head of OSHA for consideration. The report typically includes the panel’s findings and recommendations, as well as the list of SERs, the SERs’ written comments, results of any polling questions asked during the meetings, and the documents provided to the SERs.
SBAR Panel Reports contain recommendations for OSHA on the Panel’s analysis and on possible approaches to regulatory action that may minimize impacts on small entities. Of course, while focused on small entities, the report has significant implications for industry as a whole.
The SBREFA process for OSHA’s Outdoor and Indoor Heat Illness Prevention rulemaking is nearing its conclusion. The SBAR Panel convened numerous meetings SERs, received significant written comments from those SERs, and last week issued its SBAR Panel Report, formally transmitting it to Doug Parker, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA on November 3, 2023. The 332-page report is linked here and on OSHA’s Heat Injury and Illness SBREFA webpage (see the red banner at the top of the page). Continue reading
By Eric J. Conn and Beeta B. Lashkari
As we mentioned in our last update from December, OSHA continues to move swiftly on its rulemaking for a Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Standard in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings. We attended the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (“NACOSH”) committee meeting on January 10th, where the Committee primarily addressed recommendations and updates from NACOSH’s Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Work Group (“Work Group”), and wanted to provide you this update.
As a reminder, the NACOSH Work Group was split into two sub-groups – one addressing Task 1 of the Charge to the Work Group (evaluating and providing input and recommendations for compliance assistance materials about heat illness prevention), and the other sub-group addressing Task 2 (developing key recommendations on potential elements of a Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Standard for OSHA to consider). As expected, only the sub-group addressing Task 1 (“Compliance Assistance Work Group”) delivered its recommendations to the full NACOSH committee during the January 10th meeting. The sub-group addressing Task 2 (“Rulemaking Work Group”) – which is the sub-group more important to our Coalition – reiterated that it is still in the process of developing recommendations, to which OSHA responded with some strong words. More on that below.
To start, the Compliance Assistance Work Group presented its findings and recommendations to the full NACOSH Committee, which the Committee approved unanimously without changes. Four of the ten recommendations aim to improve OSHA’s guidance on heat dangers, urging the agency to: Continue reading
By Eric J. Conn
Chemical manufacturers and petroleum refiners are closely tracking the latest activities of a high-level agency working group formed pursuant to President Obama’s Executive Order (13,650) responding to the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion in 2013. The President and the public cried out for a higher level of scrutiny of workplaces that store and process hazardous chemicals following the explosion. The working group responsible to carry-out the President’s Order is comprised of EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture and Department of Transportation.
The present focus of this collection of agencies is to seek regulatory changes, including amendments to EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP) rule (RIN 2050-AG82). In a series of progress reports to the President, the working group pledged, among many other actions, that EPA would propose regulatory amendments to its Risk Management Program in 2015 and publish a final rule in 2016. Now, as a result of two years of intensive discussions by representatives of the agencies regarding how they could make both internal policy changes and regulatory changes, EPA completed a small business regulatory review process and published in the Federal Register for public comment a proposed rule to revise the RMP requirements. At the same time OSHA plans to soon commence a small business review of proposed changes to its Process Safety Management standard, which provides overlapping regulatory requirements.
Among the numerous significant changes proposed to the RMP rule, Continue reading