The hearing was a response to the
April 5 explosion that occurred in the
Massey Energy Upper Big Branch coal
mine in West Virginia. The blast, which
killed 29 miners, allegedly was the result
of a dangerous build up of methane and
coal dust. The Massey Energy mine had
been cited over 40 times within the last
two years for methane violations.
5b82b85e591d for more information
about the HELP committee hearing.
EPA Proposes Additions to Toxics
On April 6, EPA
proposal to add
16 chemicals to
the Toxics Release Inventory
(TRI). The proposal would represent the
first additions to TRI in more than a
The proposed chemicals are all carcinogens, and four fall under the polycyclic
aromatic compounds (PACs) category,
which includes persistent, bioaccumulative
toxic (PBT) chemicals. Chemicals categorized as PBTs are not easily destroyed and
can accumulate in body tissue.
New OSHA Program Increases
OSHA established the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) in April to enforce and increase penalties for employers
who consistently and willfully defy OSHA
regulations. The SVEP went into effect in
June and includes increased site inspections and follow-up assessments.
Last year, OSHA formed a work group
to review its penalty policies and determined that the current penalties were too
low to sufficiently deter violations. As a
result of these findings, several amendments have been made to the penalty
calculation system outlined in the OSHA
Field Operations Manual. These penalty
changes, which go into effect this fall,
will increase the overall dollar amount
on all penalties while continuing OSHA’s
policy of reducing penalties on smaller
employers and those acting in good faith.
For more information on SVEP, visit
OSHA Releases Data on Worker
In April, OSHA released 15 years’ worth of
data on worker exposure to toxic chemicals. The data encompass measurements
taken by OSHA compliance officers during
inspections, including exposure levels to
hazardous chemicals such as asbestos,
benzene, beryllium and lead. The agency
has also created an online search tool that
allows public access to this and other information on occupational exposures.
For more information on chemical
exposures in the workplace, visit www.