On Friday, April 14, 2000, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in Appalachian Power Company et al. v. EPA, ruled that EPA circumvented its obligation to make major policy changes through formal rulemaking processes by seeking to expand monitoring activities under the Clean Air Act through the use of its 1998 Periodic Monitoring Guidance for Title V Operating Permits.
On November 23, 1999, OSHA published its long-awaited (dreaded) proposed Ergonomics Standard in the Federal Register. The standard will require ergonomics programs at employers where one or more employee has suffered a musculoskeletal disorder. Employees on disability leave will have to be paid 100% of their wages and benefits. For more information, contact Shell.
For several years OSHA has had the right to obtain employers’ self-audits. In some instances OSHA inspectors have routinely demanded voluntary self-audits at the outset of an inspection, using the road map to investigate possible violations, and if found, classify them as willful. On October 6, 1999 (and finalized on July 28, 2000) OSHA announced that it will no longer do so. BUT BEWARE. OSHA may still demand self-audits if it independently suspects a violation.
On April 19, 1999, OSHA announced a new site-specific enforcement plan that targets 2,200 workplaces for immediate, unannounced wall-to-wall inspection. The new plan, announced following the federal appelate court’s striking down of OSHA’s so-called Cooperative Compliance Program (“CCP”), is based on 1997 injury and illness data. Under the new plan, work sites with a Lost Workday Injury and Illness Rate (“LWDI”) of 16.0 or more will be inspected by the end of 1999. Employers with an LWDI of 16.0 or more should prepare for an inspection immediately.
On March 31, 1999 OSHA announced a pilot program in the Midwest region to educate employees about OSHA’s whistleblower protections. OSHA wants workers to know they have the right to report safety and health problems without fear of employer reprisals. OSHA will distribute a brochure on the subject, printed in English, Polish and Spanish. Strengthened legislative efforts also are planned.
EPA has begun to enforce its Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule which requires the disclosure of information concerning lead-based paint and its hazards in residential housing, at the time of sale or lease. See 40 CFR Pt. 745, subpart F. EPA inspectors are performing surprise inspections at, among other places, real estate brokerage and rental offices.