Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C., law firm providing biobased and renewable chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in bringing innovative products to market.

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On February 23, 2021, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) announced that in association with other relevant Directorates-General (DG) of the European Commission (EC), DG Environment has opened a call for applications to select members for an expert group, the High-Level Roundtable on Implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. According to EU-OSHA, the expert group’s mission “is to set the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability objectives and monitor its implementation in dialogue with the stakeholders concerned.” Specific tasks include contributing to identifying and addressing social, economic, and cultural barriers to the transition toward safe and sustainable chemicals. The expert group will act as a core group of ambassadors to facilitate discussions and promote this transition in the economy and society, developing a regular exchange of views, experiences, and good practices between the EC and stakeholders on the main objectives of the Strategy, namely:

  • Innovating for safe and sustainable chemicals, including for materials and products;
     
  • Addressing pressing environmental and health concerns;
     
  • Simplifying and consolidating the legal framework;
     
  • Providing a comprehensive knowledge base on chemicals; and
     
  • Setting the example for global sound management of chemicals.

The expert group will consist of up to 32 members, with a maximum of:

  • The member state holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union;
     
  • Ten third-sector organizations in the following areas: health protection, environmental protection, human rights, animal protection, consumer rights, and workers’ rights;
     
  • Eight scientific organizations, academia, and research institutes providing a suitable balance between expertise in fundamental research, applied research, and training/education;
     
  • Ten industries, including small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) or associations of enterprises, including an adequate representation of frontrunners in the production and use of safe and sustainable chemicals. Those should include chemical industries, downstream users (from different sectors), and retailers; and
     
  • Three international organizations -- the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

Interested organizations are invited to submit their applications before March 18, 2021.


 

By   Lynn L. Bergeson 

On January 12, 2021, EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that advances collaboration and communication on EPA’s review of new chemicals under TSCA. EPA states that the MOU provides a framework for coordination and communication between the two agencies on exposure to new chemicals in the workplace and will help achieve the agencies’ shared goal of ensuring workers are protected from potential health and environmental risks. As required by TSCA, EPA and OSHA are collaborating on workplace exposures as part of EPA’s review of new chemicals. The MOU formalizes coordination efforts that EPA and OSHA have already implemented and provides a framework for additional opportunities for collaboration. Highlights of the MOU include:

  • Establishing designated staff and management points of contact from each agency to discuss and resolve workplace exposure issues related to EPA’s review of new chemicals;
     
  • Providing OSHA with regular updates on EPA’s new chemical determinations, including any necessary worker protection identified during EPA’s review; and
     
  • Documenting EPA’s role in identifying and notifying OSHA of the need for formal consultation on EPA’s review of new chemicals.

More information will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.

Tags: EPA, OSHA, MOU

 

On March 3, 2016, The Advocate reported that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined a biodiesel plant run by The Renewable Energy Group (REG) $70,000 over a September 3, 2015, hydrogen gas explosion. The explosion injured four workers and resulted in three willful safety violations from OSHA. According to The Advocate, OSHA's citation stated that REG failed "to ensure a hazardous and flammable chemical was no longer in a plant pipeline that was under repair." A separate State Police investigation into the incident determined that the explosion occurred as a result of a failure in "lockout/tagout" procedures which should have made it clear that the flow of hydrogen gas through the pipeline had not been shut off. A spokesman for REG stated: "[w]hile we have been working with OSHA throughout its investigative process, we respectfully disagree with its findings and the classification of the citation and will contest it. We expect to meet with OSHA in the coming weeks to discuss its findings, the safety measures already in place at the Geismar facility and our commitment to continuous improvement." The OSHA citation gave REG through March 18, 2016, to correct the safety violations that led to the explosion occurring.

Tags: OSHA, REG, Hydrogen