Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Analyzing the critical energy and environmental issues of the day

Category Archives: Health and Safety

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Fundamental Hazard Communications to Control Risk

Posted in Environmental Quality, Health and Safety
To assure environmental health and safety, businesses must let their employees know the potential chemical hazards in the workplace. Businesses with such hazards were required to implement OSHA’s revised Hazard Communications Standard (“HCS”) in 2016. Safety Data Sheets (“SDS”) are a key component of HCS, and SDS issues are one of the most frequently cited… Continue Reading

New Amendments To TSCA Invigorate Chemical Regulatory Regime And Empower EPA

Posted in EPA, Health and Safety, Rulemakings
On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (the Act) which amends the core provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), an environmental law whose use and enforcement has dwindled somewhat over the years (Available here). TSCA regulates chemical manufacturing and usage, and… Continue Reading

Steps to Keep OSHA from Raising the Retaliation Issue

Posted in Health and Safety
OSHA’s new anti-retaliation provisions go into effect on August 10, 2016.  The provisions require employers to:  1) inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without being subjected to retaliation; and 2) establish procedures for reporting work-related illnesses and injuries that are reasonable and do not discourage reporting. Employees may already file anti-retaliation… Continue Reading

BPA in Plastics Requires a Prop 65 Warning — For Food Containers, California Imposes a Generic Point-of-Sale Warning

Posted in California, Health and Safety
Last year the State of California added Bisphenol A (BPA) to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm under Prop 65 [the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986], a law which requires warnings for such exposures in California. The warning requirement kicked in a year later – May… Continue Reading

When is a reward a bribe? OSHA policy limits workplace safety incentive programs

Posted in California, Federal, Health and Safety, Northwest
Years ago, my employer gave employees a coaster every quarter that the group had no OSHA reportable incidents. Now it would have been in violation to have such a program. Despite criticism from workers compensation carriers who recognize the benefits of incentive programs, OSHA has reiterated its policy and it continues to enforce against companies… Continue Reading

DOJ Signals More Aggressive Stance On Environmental Crimes

Posted in Federal, Health and Safety
The Department of Justice announced on December 17, 2015, that it would intensify enforcement of environmental and safety laws by adding in environmental criminal counts to worker safety prosecutions.  The worker safety issues are often misdemeanors, so by coupling them with environmental crimes the Department expects it can impose greater penalties and increase deterrence. … Continue Reading

BP has settled its Clean Water Act penalty claims, but important questions remain to be decided

Posted in Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Litigation
The United States and BP lodged their proposed settlement of the remaining claims by the US in connection with the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill with the US District Court today. Comments to the Justice Department are due by Friday, December 4, 2015.  The details of the proposed settlement, which includes the largest Clean Water Act… Continue Reading

Washington State Producers and Retailers of Mercury-Containing Lights Face New Regulations

Posted in Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest
The New Year brought with it new obligations for any company that produces or sells mercury-containing lights in (or into) Washington State.  As of January 1, 2015, the State’s recycling program and corresponding funding mechanism is fully operational, and participation is mandatory for producers of mercury-containing lights. While the statute and regulations impose unclear requirements… Continue Reading

West Virginia Chemical Spill Likely to Bring Oil and Chemical Inspections and Perhaps Regulatory Changes for Facilities with Large Above Ground Storage Tanks (“AST’s”)

Posted in Environmental Quality, Federal, Health and Safety
Last Thursday residents of Kanawha County reported a foul licorice odor in the air. State and local officials traced the smell to a leak from a 35,000-gallon above ground storage tank along the Elk River.The chemical had overflowed a containment area around the tank, then migrated over land and through the soil into the river.… Continue Reading

Transmission Line Developers Post a Win

Posted in Federal, Health and Safety, NEPA
A federal court in Washington, D.C. gave some encouragement to transmission line developers—not to mention sponsors of other linear projects, like gas or water pipelines.  In National Parks Conservation Assn. v. Jewell, the court rejected a challenge to the National Parks Service’s grant of special use permits and extended rights-of-way for the Susquehanna to Roseland… Continue Reading

Ecology to hold public meetings on updates to human health criteria in Washington’s water quality standards

Posted in Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest, Water Law
On September 12 and 16, 2013, Ecology will hold public meetings at its headquarters in Lacey, Washington regarding its rulemaking to update Washington’s surface water quality standards.  The rule making will set new human health criteria and implement regulatory tools to help dischargers comply with water quality standards. … Continue Reading

Those Dam Polluters!

Posted in Electric Power, Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest, Oil & Gas, Water Law
The Columbia and Snake River federal network of dams, and the abundance of low cost electricity it produces, has long been the cornerstone of the Pacific Northwest manufacturing economy.  It has also supported another industry—the legions of lawyers fighting over the environmental effects.  The latest iteration is an attack brought by Columbia Riverkeepers against the… Continue Reading

5th Circuit Evaluates Application of Civil Penalty Factors for Oil Spills under the Clean Water Act, Holds Economic Benefit is Central Factor

Posted in Federal, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Oil & Gas
By Gerald George On an appeal of a penalty determination in the first oil spill case to be tried under the civil penalty provisions enacted after the Exxon Valdez catastrophe in the Oil Pollution Act of 1991,[1] the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for reconsideration of the penalty, despite holding… Continue Reading

OSHA Takes the “M” Out of MSDS and Changes Chemical Labeling Requirements

Posted in Federal, Health and Safety
In 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) revised the Hazard Communication System (“HCS”) and other regulations to conform them to the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (“GHS”). Fed. Reg. Vol. 77, No. 58, p. 17573 et seq. (5/15/12). By Dec. 1, 2013, employers must have trained their… Continue Reading

BSEE and Coast Guard Sign Memorandum of Agreement for Regulating Mobile Offshore Drilling Units

Posted in Environmental Quality, Federal, Health and Safety, Oil & Gas
A recent advisory from DWT partners Glenn Benson and Barbara Jost: On June 4, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) and the U.S. Coast Guard signed a Memorandum of Agreement regarding division of lead agency responsibilities between the two agencies for regulation, inspection, and oversight of systems… Continue Reading

BLM Revises Proposed Rule on Hydraulic Fracturing

Posted in Environmental Quality, Federal, Health and Safety, Land Use, Natural Resources, Oil & Gas, Water Law
A recent advisory from DWT partners Glenn Benson and Barbara Jost: On May 16, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) issued a revised proposed rule regarding hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands for oil and gas production. In response to the more than 177,000 public comments submitted in… Continue Reading

States Consider Legislative Proposals Regulating Toxic Chemicals in Consumer Products

Posted in Federal, Health and Safety
There is high and growing concern among the general public regarding adverse health effects from exposures to toxic chemicals in consumer products, especially from exposures to children. These concerns initially came to a head in the mid-2000s, resulting in passage of the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). CPSIA imposed numerical limits… Continue Reading

FDA Food Safety Rulemaking Tour Heads to the Northwest

Posted in Federal, Health and Safety
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a public meeting on FDA’s proposed food safety rules in Portland, OR on March 27-28. The rules implement portions of the recent Food Safety Modernization Act by imposing sweeping federal regulation of local farming practices and food processing operations across the nation. The proposed rules are… Continue Reading

Free Advice on OSHA Compliance!

Posted in Federal, Health and Safety
Oregon published a schedule of training dates on its website which are a convenient way to catch up on programs that your business needs.  The folks from the agency are great to deal with in this setting and you may learn of areas where you actually do need to check with an attorney.  Additionally, the… Continue Reading

America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal, Health and Safety
Mother Jones has published an article that discusses the connection between damaging exposures to lead and increased crime rates, which, in turn, are linked to the adverse, toxic effects of lead, especially to developing male brains.  It posits that the benefits to society from crime reduction far outweigh the costs of further reductions in childhood… Continue Reading

Prop 65 List Continues to Grow

Posted in California, Health and Safety
  Prop 65 continues to grow with the addition of a natural and commonly manufactured chemical used in many products including model airplane glue. California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has added methylisopropyl ketone to the Proposition 65 list.  Proposition 65, also known as the Safe Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986,… Continue Reading

Washington Landlord Cited for Failing to Notify Tenants of Lead Paint

Posted in EPA, Federal, Health and Safety
  EPA Press release issued May 15, 2012 Contact: Kim Farnham, EPA LBP Compliance Officer, 206-553-6697, farnham.kim@epa.gov Jeff Philip, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-1465, philip.jeff@epa.gov (Seattle – May 15, 2012) Robert Kerr of Everett, Washington will pay a penalty for alleged violations of the federal Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule, according to a settlement with the… Continue Reading

OSHA Inspection Plan for 2012

Posted in Federal, Health and Safety
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has an inspection plan for 2012. OSHA’s new target list of companies now includes companies employing 20 to 40 persons as well as larger companies. In addition, OSHA targets high-risk hazards and industries. For 2012, its targets include operations involving: Lead Crystalline silica Petroleum refineries… Continue Reading