Weekly Compliance Digest – OSHA Injury & Illness Data Rule, EPA Methane Rule

May 20, 2016 By
In this edition of the Weekly Compliance Digest, we cover two regulatory developments that occurred last week: OSHA’s rule on recording and submitting data on injuries and illnesses, and EPA’s rule on methane emissions.

OSHA Final Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

What is it?

Last week, OSHA announced a final rule that revises its requirements for recording and submitting records of workplace injuries and illnesses to require that some of the recorded information be submitted to OSHA electronically for posting to the OSHA website. By releasing the data in a standard and open format, OSHA aims to:

  • Encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent worker injuries and illnesses, and improve their safety performance by benchmarking with industry peers.
  • Enable researchers to examine the data in ways that may help employers make their workplaces safer and healthier, and may also help to identify new workplace safety hazards before they become widespread.

According to OSHA, public disclosure of the data will “nudge” employers to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses in order to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers, and the broader public that their workplaces provide safe and healthy work environments for their employees.

Who is affected?

The requirements of the final rule apply to:

  • Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records.
  • Establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses.

What are the requirements?

The final rule includes the following electronic submission requirements:

  • Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must electronically submit information from the following OSHA forms:
    • Form 300: Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
    • Form 300A: Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
    • Form 301: Injury and Illness Incident Report
  • Establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A.

OSHA will post the establishment-specific injury and illness data it collects under this recordkeeping rule on its public website (www.osha.gov). OSHA will remove any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) before the data is released to the public.

The rule also contains the following provisions:

  • Employers must inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation. This obligation may be met by posting the OSHA Job Safety and Health — It’s The Law worker rights poster.
  • An employer’s procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and must not deter or discourage employees from reporting.
  • An employer may not retaliate against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.

What is next?

The final rule was published in the Federal Register on May 12, 2016, and will be effective on January 1, 2017.

Establishments with 250 or more employees must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and their 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

 

Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources

What is it?

On May 12, 2016, the U.S. EPA issued updates to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) that aim to curb emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic air pollutants, such as benzene, from new, reconstructed and modified oil and gas sources. The updates are part of the President’s Climate Action Plan: Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions and the Clean Air Act. The Administration wants to stay on track regarding its goal of cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40% to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025.

Who is affected?

The following industries are affected by the NSPS updates:

  • Crude Petroleum and Natural Gas Extraction (NAICS code 211111)
  • Natural Gas Liquid Extraction (NAICS code 211112)
  • Natural Gas Distribution (NAICS code 221210)
  • Pipeline Distribution of Crude Oil (NAICS code 486110)
  • Pipeline Transportation of Natural Gas (NAICS code 486210)

What are the requirements?

The final rule includes the following provisions:

  • Emissions limits for methane, which is the principal greenhouse gas emitted by equipment and processes in the oil and gas sector. Owners/operators will be able to meet the limits using technologies that are cost-effective and readily available, the EPA says.
  • Owners/operators must find and repair leaks (i.e. fugitive emissions), which can be a significant source of both methane and VOC pollution.
  • Most sources subject to the 2012 VOC reduction requirements now also are covered by the new requirements to reduce methane. However, they will not have to install additional controls, because the controls to reduce VOCs also reduce methane.

More details on the requirements affecting specific industries are available at the following links:

What is next?

A pre-publication version of the final rule was released on May 12, 2016. As of today, it has not been published yet in the Federal Register. The rule will be effective 60 days after its publication date in the Federal Register.

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Categories: EHS

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