Major regulatory changes creating major challenges for EHS managers
February 28th, 2017 ProActivity News
Between the Obama administration's flurry of regulatory activity in January and the threat of sweeping executive actions on the horizon, EHS managers are likely anxious about the coming months. Regardless of the uncertainty that exists in the current regulatory environment, there are a number of significant changes occurring in the first quarter of 2017 that organizations should be aware of and taking action on. For Dakota clients, below is a summary of the major changes we are working on along with a summary of potential impacts:
- OSHA's Walking-Working Surfaces amendments (January 2017 release; Worker Safety and Equipment Safeguards regulatory modules, and Construction Safety special topic regulatory module):
OSHA had been considering for several years modernizing requirements about some very basic things like stairs; ladders (e.g., the original OSHA rule addressed only metal and wood ladders while fiberglass ladders have become popular over the last several years); and guarding against falls through floor openings and off of scaffolds but finally finished and released its updates once faced with the end of the Obama administration. These amendments took effect just days before the inauguration and so are likely here to stay unless some technical reason for changing them occurs.
- OSHA's Occupational Exposure to Beryllium standard (forthcoming in March 2017; Chemical and Physical Exposures regulatory module and Construction Safety special topic regulatory module):
This brand new rule addressing exposure to the chemical beryllium in workplace settings had been under consideration for several years and was released in early January to become effective in March with compliance required in phases between 2018 and 2020. This rule is one of those that was affected by the memo signed on Inauguration Day that delayed all rules which had been published in the Federal Register but that had not yet taken effect. The rule text is being added to Dakota's database so that our users can become familiar with its requirements and the coverage will reflect the delayed dates for this rule and we are watching for further delays since as a new regulation this is ripe for further delays if the new administration decides to review its necessity and implementation. Dakota will alert its users to further delays and rule modifications if and when they occur.
- EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act reforms (February and March 2017 releases; TSCA regulatory module):
EPA has begun laying out the details for how it will implement the requirements imposed upon it by reforms passed by Congress and signed by President Obama last summer. Some of these plans are informational for Dakota users to understand what EPA is planning while others are proposed rules that would restrict the use of certain chemicals under the authority granted to EPA that could impact how our users formulate the products they sell and/or affect how they carry out certain operations at their facilities; e.g., the proposals could result in restrictions on what chemicals could be used to degrease parts on the facility floor.
- EPA's Risk Management Program amendments (message added for February 2017 release with full coverage forthcoming in March 2017 release; Air Quality regulatory module):
These amendments have been under consideration since several very high profile industrial incidents (such as the 2013 explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, Texas that killed 15 people and destroyed hundreds of homes) and were then published on January 13, 2017. EPA's amendments have been the subject of criticism from industry as imposing significant costs while not quantifying the safety benefits that would be achieved and since the new administration took office several industry groups have lobbied both Congress and EPA to at least delay these amendments while they are reconsidered and to possibly use the Congressional Review Act to completely eliminate them. The Congressional Review Act is a broad sword and if used here could affect the ability to modify the RMP regulations going forward. Here, too, we are watching for what happens and will be carrying both the requirements that are currently required and those that are slated to take effect in late March so that users will be able to readily see both sets of requirements as this plays out over the next several weeks and will be prepared to alert users to further delays or changes should they happen.
- EPA's Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements (January 2017; Solid and Hazardous Waste regulatory module):
These amendments reorganize the hazardous waste regulations to make it easier to identify what applies to whom and to implement changes based on lessons learned over the last 30+ years. These changes don't officially take effect until the end of May but Dakota's users can see them now next to the currently applicable citations and requirements. We will be removing the "old" citations once the reorganization takes effect but in the interim Dakota's Reference Change Tracking feature will assist users in seeing what's truly new and what is simply text moved to a new location as part of the reorganization but otherwise unchanged. These amendments are largely viewed favorably by industry because they make the hazardous waste generator requirements easier to navigate, so while delays are possible they are not expected.
- PHMSA's Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities (February 2017 release; Pipeline Safety special topic regulatory module):
The scope of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) regulations have been expanded to now, for the first time, apply to underground natural gas storage facilities spurred by recent leaks from these types of facilities. This action was actually requested by some industry groups as preferable to a patchwork of state regulations. This rule was published as an "interim final rule" which means that PHMSA could act quickly in the public interest to get the rule in place but it is subject to further review in the future. Dakota's users may now need to expand the scope of some of their existing tasks to include operations at these types of facilities, and there will also be compliance tasks required that are specific to these facilities.
These are just a portion of the recent regulatory changes being made to Dakota's regulatory database. They represent real changes to major regulatory programs as opposed to editorial or technical corrections, and they are likely to affect a substantial portion of Dakota’s clients as well as all industrial companies.
As always, Dakota’s regulatory team is hard at work updating Dakota’s Regulatory Library. As these changes occur, Dakota customers can remain confident that we will continue to provide you with the insights and guidance needed to manage compliance activities across your organization. If you have any questions about how these changes will impact your individual facilities, our compliance services team is here to help. Just email us at email@example.com.