January 2017 Workplace Safety News & Notes

Here’s a collection of safety news from around the web:

DOT Amends Hazmat Rules to Maintain Consistency with International Regulations

The U.S. DOT posted a final rule on Jan. 19 that amends the U.S. Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) to maintain consistency with international regulations and standards. Amendments include changes to proper shipping names; hazard classes; packing groups; special provisions; packaging authorizations; air transport quantity limitations; and vessel stowage requirements. Some of the amendments resulted from coordination with Canada under the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council. Mandatory compliance set to begin on Jan. 1, 2018, unless otherwise specified. Get details here (pdf).

EPA Plans to Evaluate Grandfathered Chemicals That May Pose Risks

The EPA is developing a proposal of how it will prioritize and evaluate chemicals, given that the final processes must be in place within the first year of the new law’s enactment, or before June 22, 2017. The plan will address chemicals currently in the marketplace, some for 40 years or more, that have never been evaluated. When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976, it grandfathered in thousands of unevaluated chemicals that were in commerce at the time. That law did not provide EPA with tools to evaluate chemicals or require companies to generate and provide data on chemicals they produced. If EPA identifies unreasonable risk in the evaluation, it is required to eliminate that risk through regulations. Read more.

PHMSA Final Rule Requires Faster Notification Following Pipeline Accidents

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued a final rule, “Operator Qualification, Cost Recovery, Accident and Incident Notification, and Other Pipeline Safety Changes,” that lays out a specific time frame for telephone or electronic notifications of accidents and incidents. The rule also amends drug and alcohol testing requirements and incorporates consensus standards by reference for in-line inspection and Stress Corrosion Cracking Direct Assessment. The rulemaking is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017 and is currently on public inspection. The rulemaking will become effective 60 days from the date of its publication. Learn more.

OSHA Issues Final Rule Clarifying Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Injury and Illness Records

OSHA’s longstanding position has been that an employer’s duty to record an injury or illness continues for the full five-year record-retention period, and this position has been upheld by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in cases dating back to 1993. In 2012, the D.C. Circuit issued a decision in AKM LLC v. Secretary of Labor (Volks) reversing the Commission and rejecting OSHA’s position on the continuing nature of its prior recordkeeping regulations. The new final rule more clearly states employers’ obligations. The amendments add no new compliance obligations and do not require employers to make records of any injuries or illnesses for which records are not already required. Read more.

New Report Addresses Volunteer Firefighters’ Safety and Health Issues

A new report from the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Volunteer Fire Council can help volunteer departments address several important issues. “Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service” addresses topics that range from department culture to recruitment and retention, funding, personal health, and safety protocols. Download the report (pdf).

NFPA Offers Tips for Fire Safety in Public Buildings

In response to recent fires across the country, the NFPA urges the public to be aware of their surroundings while in public buildings to best protect themselves in the event of a fire or other emergency. NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley delivered the association’s tips, saying people need to practice them and not become complacent. Read more.