The 'Blue Guide' on the implementation of EU product rules 2016

On April 5, 2016 the European Commission posted an updated 'Blue Guide'.  The guides intended purpose is to enhance the understanding of EU product rules.  The 2016 version of the Blue Guide replaces the 2000 edition.  Key topics covered within the guide include:

  • Regulating the free movement of goods
  • When does union harmonization legislation on products apply?
  • The actors in the product supply chain and their obligations
  • Product requirements
  • Conformity assessment
  • Accreditation
  • Market surveillance    

Key Link(s):

OSHA Provides Update After the First Year of a New Severe Injury Reporting Requirement

On March 17, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a report that details the results of the first year (CY2015) of a new reporting requirement related to severe work-related injuries.  The news release states there were "over 10K severe worker injuries reported in first year of OSHA requirement" and that "most employers cooperated with OSHA to fix hazards, but some tried to hide them". 

The new reporting responsibility requires employers to report severe work-related injuries within 24 hours of occurrence.  A severe work-related injury is defined as a "hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye".  The existing requirement to report a work place fatality within eight hours remains in place.    

In 2015 employers reported 10,388 severe injuries (including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations).

The top 5 industry groups reporting severe injuries were:

  • Foundation, Structure, and Building Exterior Contractors
  • Building Equipment Contractors
  • Support Activities for Mining
  • Nonresidential Building Construction
  • Postal Service

The author of the report, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, said “In case after case, the prompt reporting of worker injuries has created opportunities for us to work with employers we wouldn’t have had contact with otherwise".

OSHA intends to use the reporting data to target enforcement efforts and to "engage employers in high-hazard industries to identify and eliminate hazards". The

A copy of the full report is available here: "Year One of OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program: An Impact Evaluation"

A complete list of injury reports by industry is available here: 2015 Injury Report

OSHA provides guidance on how to report injuries here: Report a Fatality or Severe Injury

The EPA is Proposing to Amend its RMP Regulations

On March 14, 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rulemaking (81 FR 13638) that includes major changes to its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations (40 CFR Part 68). The RMP regulations apply to facilities that hold regulated substances in excess of threshold quantities.  The proposed rulemaking says the amendments are intended to "seek to improve chemical process safety, assist local emergency authorities in planning for and responding to accidents, and improve public awareness of chemical hazards at regulated sources."

The proposed rulemaking includes major changes in the following areas:

Accident Prevention Program

  • All facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes (definition below) would be required to conduct a root cause analysis as part of an incident investigation of a catastrophic release or an incident that could have reasonably resulted in a catastrophic release (i.e., a near-miss).
  • Facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes would be required to contract with an independent third-party to perform a compliance audit after the facility has a reportable release. Compliance audits are required under the existing rule, but are allowed to be self-audits (i.e., performed by the owner or operator of the regulated facility).
  • Facilities with Program 3 regulated processes in North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes 322 (paper manufacturing), 324 (petroleum and coal products manufacturing), and 325 (chemical manufacturing) would be required to conduct a safer technology and alternatives analysis (STAA) as part of their PHA, and to evaluate the feasibility of any inherently safer technology (IST) identified. The current PHA requirements include consideration of active, passive, and procedural measures to control hazards. The proposed modernization effort continues to support the analysis of those measures and adds consideration of IST alternatives.

Emergency Response

  • Facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes would be required to coordinate with the local emergency response agencies at least once a year to ensure that resources and capabilities are in place to respond to an accidental release of a regulated substance.
  • Facilities with Program 2 or 3 processes would be required to conduct notification exercises annually to ensure that their emergency contact information is accurate and complete.
  • Facilities subject to the emergency response program requirements of subpart E of the rule (or “responding facilities”) conduct a full field exercise at least once every five years and one tabletop exercise annually in the other years. Responding facilities that have an RMP reportable accident would also have to conduct a full field exercise within a year of the accident.

Enhanced Availability of Information

  • All facilities would be required to provide certain basic information to the public through easily accessible means such as a facility Web site. If no Web site exists, the owner or operator may provide the information at public libraries or government offices, or use other means appropriate for particular locations and facilities.
  • A subset of facilities would be required, upon request, to provide the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), Tribal Emergency Planning Committee (TEPC)  [2] or other local emergency response agencies with summaries related to: Their activities on compliance audits (facilities with Program 2 and Program 3 processes); emergency response exercises (facilities with Program 2 and Program 3 processes); accident history and investigation reports (all facilities that have had RMP reportable accidents); and any ISTs implemented at the facility (a subset of Program 3 processes).
  • All facilities to hold a public meeting for the local community within a specified timeframe after an RMP reportable accident.
  • Proposes revisions to clarify or simplify the RMP submission.

Program 1 eligibility requirements. A covered process is eligible for Program 1 requirements as provided in §68.12(b) if it meets all of the following requirements: (1) For the five years prior to the submission of an RMP, the process has not had an accidental release of a regulated substance where exposure to the substance, its reaction products, overpressure generated by an explosion involving the substance, or radiant heat generated by a fire involving the substance led to any of the following offsite: (i) Death; (ii) Injury; or (iii) Response or restoration activities for an exposure of an environmental receptor; (2) The distance to a toxic or flammable endpoint for a worst-case release assessment conducted under subpart B and §68.25 is less than the distance to any public receptor, as defined in §68.30; and (3) Emergency response procedures have been coordinated between the stationary source and local emergency planning and response organizations.

Program 2 eligibility requirements. A covered process is subject to Program 2 requirements if it does not meet the eligibility requirements of either a Program 1 or Program 3 facility. 

Program 3 eligibility requirements. A covered process is subject to Program 3 if the process does not meet the requirements of a Program 1 facility, and if either of the following conditions is met: (1) The process is in NAICS code 32211, 32411, 32511, 325181, 325188, 325192, 325199, 325211, 325311, or 32532; or (2) The process is subject to the OSHA process safety management standard, 29 CFR 1910.119.

A public hearing on the proposed rule will be held on March 29, 2016.  Comments on the proposed rule are due on May 13, 2016.


OSHA Publishes 2016 Hazard Classification Guidance

OSHA recently published a new 2016 hazard classification guidance document titled "Hazard Classification for Manufacturers, Importers, and Employers". 

The 432 page document outlines the basic applicability of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) as well as the hazard classification process.  According to OSHA, the document is designed to "help manufacturers and importers of chemicals not only identify chemical hazards, but also to classify these hazards so that workers and downstream users can be informed about and better understand these hazards as required by OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard." 

If you are responsible for any aspect of compliance with the HCS or for classifying chemical hazards you will find this guidance document helpful.