December is fully upon us. From gift buying, to hanging décor, to sneaking treats in the breakroom, to enjoying office parties, we wish all of you the safest Holiday season. Safety news is breaking at all levels of the government, so we turn down the Holiday music and dial up the health and safety measures streaming in this week.
ONE THAT WON’T MAKE YOU NERVOUS
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to 15 companies for illegally selling products containing Cannabidiol (CBD) in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The FDA also published a revised Consumer Update detailing broad safety concerns about CBD products. The agency warns that it has not yet concluded that CBD is “generally recognized as safe” for use in human or animal food. A growing industry is left wonderin’ what to do, as recent industry studies predict the global CBD market will grow from $311.7 million this year to $1.25 billion by 2024. And, hemp farming quadrupled in 2019 since the crop was legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill. We’re keeping watch.
WHO’S GONNA DRIVE YOU HOME, TONIGHT?
The U.S. Department of Transportation will delay the Entry Level Driver Training Rule for two years. A partial delay of the rule was announced in the summer, and a limited subset of the rule was set to take effect February 7th. Under the 2016 rule, in order for new drivers to receive a Class A or Class B commercial driver license, they must receive instruction from approved training curriculum, including on-road instruction, which is listed on the training provider registry. The training provider registry, which is not ready for public use, was supposed to be the first clearinghouse of student completion of the required curriculum.
CHEMICAL, PHYSICAL, KRYPTONITE
The Trump administration reversed a series of chemical safety regulations that were created in response to a 2013 explosion in West, Texas that killed 15, injured more than 200, and destroyed much of the farming community south of Dallas. This deregulatory move came just before a Thanksgiving Day explosion in Port Neches, Texas. Under the new rule, companies will not have to do third-party audits, root-cause analyses, or provide the public access to information about what type of chemicals are stored in these facilities. The Environmental Protection Agency reversed the rule for potential security reasons and to reduce the economic cost of compliance.
WAITING FOR A STAR TO FALL
The Department of Labor (DOL) released its regulatory agenda. The DOL indicates only a handful of anticipated changes to the Occupational Safety Administration Act (OSHA). That said, OSHA will clarify regulatory language in its 2016 final rule on walking-working surfaces in early 2020. According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, OSHA’s anticipated amendments relate to stair rail systems and are likely to have an impact on U.S. businesses. We’ll wait for the rule and carry the news in the New Year.
CAME IN LIKE A WRECKING BALL
Adding more than 250 inspectors to its ranks, the New York Department of Buildings (DOB) is conducting over 6,000 construction site sweeps to educate workers on a new workplace safety rule coming into effect this week. Under New York City law, which is a first-of-its-kind safety training program for the city’s construction workforce, every worker and supervisor on major construction sites will be required to have undergone mandatory hours of safety training. Work sites found to be unsafe could face penalties of up to $25,000 for each construction safety violation, more than 4 times the prior penalty limits. The DOB’s interactive map shows the sites where construction workers and supervisors will be required to have at least 30 hours and 62 hours of mandatory safety training.
BETTER TAKE COVER
In related international news last week, Australia’s Victorian Parliament passed a Workplace Manslaughter Bill (WM Bill) that will amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS) 2004 and introduce workplace manslaughter offences for corporate officers, officials, and leaders involved in fatal construction loss. One day later, the Northern Territory's (NT) similar Industrial Manslaughter Bill passed the NT Parliament. Under Victoria’s new law, a person will be guilty of workplace manslaughter if they engage in negligent conduct; and that conduct amounts to a breach of an OHS duty owed to another person; and that conduct causes the death of the other person.
Making Our Way Around the Country
HEALTH CARE RISKS
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act,” a bill aimed at reversing the growing number of health care workers, nurses, and social workers who are physically attacked by patients or their family members. The measure would direct the DOL to issue a rule requiring health care and social service employers to implement workplace violence prevention plans and to report all incidences of workplace violence. The legislation defines workplace violence as any act or threat of force against an employee that could result in a physical injury, psychological trauma, or stress.
SENATE HEARINGS ON AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES
The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing on Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) last week. The hearing focused on the federal government’s role in realizing the opportunities offered by AVs. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) acting chief James Owens told the committee that, “truly self-driving cars are still several years off.” At present, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates crashes involving autonomous vehicles but does not have the authority to issue any recalls. More than 80 companies are currently testing automated vehicles on the public roadways in the U.S. NTSB is urging NHTSA to regulate developers who want to test, market, and deploy semi- or fully-autonomous vehicles on U.S. roads. Senator Tom Udall (D. - N.M.) called to mind the 737 MAX 8 fatal crashes as an example of what could occur if NHTSA “fails to establish clear rules around testing and deploying self-driving cars.”
In related news, the Federal Aviation Administration will now be the sole issuer of airworthiness certificates for all newly manufactured 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The FAA will retain this authority until it believes the manufacturer has “fully functional quality control and verification processes in place; delivery processes are similarly functional and stable; and Boeing’s 737 MAX compliance, design, and production processes meet all regulatory standards and conditions for delegation and ensure the safety of the public.” The head of the FAA will testify on Dec. 11 before a U.S. House panel on the agency’s review of the grounded 737 MAX planes.
CARE ABOUT THE PRESENTS
And back to our main story, December is Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month. This initiative encourages everyone to consider the suitability of a gift for the individual child who will receive it, especially for infants and children under age three. For additional help refining your Holiday gift list, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued the 2019 Safe Shopping Guide, which highlights 30 items that have been recalled this year. As for us, all we want for Christmas is for you to have a great Holiday season with your loved ones. We’ll see you next week for an extra special edition of The Way!