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Christian Richter
| NASF Executive Director
crichter@thepolicygroup.com



Companies Must Electronically File Injury and Illness Reports by this Friday, December 15, 2017

POSTED: December 11, 2017

Companies Required to Submit their 2016 Form 300A Data to New OSHA Website

Washington, D.C. – The National Association for Surface Finishing is sending this urgent alert to remind your company that you may be required to electronically file your 2016 injury and illness summary report to OSHA by this Friday, December 15, 2017.

OSHA has estimated that more than 450,000 companies nationwide must submit their 2016 Form 300A data under the agency’s recently accessible tracking system – the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) – here if you meet the following criteria:

  • Large Companies – If you have 250 or more employees and are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records.
  • Small and Medium-Size Companies – If you have 20-249 employees and are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. This category includes most manufacturing operations, including companies in the surface finishing industry.

All operations currently regulated under OSHA federal and state plans are required to report this week. However, the following OSHA-approved State Plans have not yet adopted the requirement to submit injury and illness reports electronically: CA, MD, MN, SC, UT, WA and WY. Establishments in these states are not currently required to submit their summary data through OSHA’s new tracking system.

Background: On May 12, 2016, OSHA published a final rule (81 FR 29624) with an effective date of January 1, 2017, for the agency’s new electronic reporting requirements. Under these requirements, certain employers were required to electronically submit 2016 Form 300A data to OSHA by July 1, 2017. The original July 2017 submission deadline was delayed to December 1, 2017 for several reasons, and OSHA’s new web-based reporting system was not made available until August 2017.

The most recent November 24, 2017 notice from OSHA announced the agency’s decision to extend the reporting deadline to December 15, 2017, and can be found here.

Outlook: OSHA’s original electronic reporting rule remains under review in federal court. Several major provisions of the rule were challenged, including federal whistleblower and employer anti-retaliation requirements that could pose significant challenges and new liabilities for businesses. Two separate lawsuits have been on hold since this past summer as the litigants, which include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Home Builders, wait to see what decisions OSHA will make under the new administration. The White House’s nominee to head OSHA, Scott Mugno, recently FedEx’s Vice President for Safety, Sustainability and Vehicle Maintenance, has not yet been confirmed by the full Senate.

For further information, please contact Jeff Hannapel at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.



CATEGORIES: Law & Regulation
TAGS: ,


Valuable Technical Resource at Your Fingertips: Explore STERC.org

POSTED: May 22, 2017

Did you know, as an active member of the National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF), you have access to one of the most comprehensive online tools for surface finishing?

Launched in early 2017, NASF, in partnership with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) and continued grant funding through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), launched the Surface Technology Environmental Resource Center (STERC.org).

STERC offers a fresh new look with additional menu options, an expanded library, combined training and education products from the AESF Foundation and NCMS, highlights of pending new rules and compliance deadlines, and other planned features. The STERC library is now home to thousands of searchable technical articles and papers from Plating and Surface Finishing (P&SF) magazine to SUR/FIN conference papers, as well as articles and papers from many other sources. Under the new partnership, the content of the library is included in your NASF membership.

STERC is a valuable one-stop resource for the latest compliance information and best practices for reducing pollution for the surface fishing industry. Like the old National Metal Finishing Resource Center (NMFRC), STERC will continue to include:

  • Easy-to-follow regulatory overviews
  • Tips on how to comply
  • Best-practice solutions that can help the environment while saving companies money
  • Industry calculators
  • Links to other useful resources

For more information on STERC, contact Jeff Hannapel at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com or Matt Martz at mmartz@nasf.org.



CATEGORIES: Business, Education, Government Relations, Law & Regulation, Research


NASF Finalizing Metals Discharge Study: Presentation to EPA at April Washington Forum

POSTED: March 30, 2017

The NASF through its Government Advisory Committee is nearing completion of a milestone review and case study of the industry’s progress in reducing wastewater discharges throughout a nearly 30-year period. The study compares metals discharged by permitted finishing operations in Milwaukee from 1989 to 2016. It evaluates total metals reductions from companies to the municipal treatment plant, average reductions on a per facility basis, and the relative contribution of the finishing industry versus the larger universe of industrial dischargers in the community.

The draft version is under review by the committee this month and, as anticipated, preliminary findings show the industry’s reductions to be significant. The results of the study will be presented at the NASF Washington Forum in a discussion led by GAC Committee Member John Lindstedt, Advanced Plating Technology. Committee representatives will also present the study’s findings to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the April meetings. The findings will substantiate the association’s position that protecting the nation’s waterways has been an overwhelming success, and that future, more stringent discharge standards are unnecessary.

Further details will be available shortly after the committee’s review and the report is finalized.



CATEGORIES: Government Relations, Law & Regulation, NASF Members, Other Publications, Research, Uncategorized


Regulatory Alert: California Targeting Finishing Air Emissions Below Nanogram Levels

POSTED: March 30, 2017

Prompted by concerns over elevated air monitoring levels of hexavalent chromium in a southern California neighborhood, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) is expected to propose revisions to its Rule 1469 – Hexavalent Chromium Emissions from Chrome Plating and Chromic Acid Anodizing Operations and Rule 1426 – Emissions from Metal Finishing Operations.

Local air officials have indicated that hexavalent chromium levels of more than 0.2 nanograms per cubic meter would pose unacceptable risks to human health. AQMD has already required one metal finishing shop to cease operations for exceeding 1 nanogram of hexavalent chromium per cubic meter at air monitors at the property boundary.

Focus is on Fugitive Emissions

The AQMD staff stated that they are concerned primarily about fugitive emissions from plating operations, rather than emissions from stacks, scrubbers and other control devices. To address the fugitive emissions from plating shops, AQMD may add the requirements below to the current rules for chromic anodizing and chrome plating operations.

  • Monitoring on the premises using multiple monitors ($5000 each) with immediate abatement when levels exceed acceptable risk thresholds
  • Total enclosures for plating and anodizing operations
  • Buildings with negative air pressure
  • Controls and/or covers on all tanks that are heated or agitated and may contain hexavalent chromium, including sealer and rinse tanks
  • More stringent controls on abrasive blast cabinets and grinding operations
  • New housekeeping requirements, including:
    • Daily vacuuming of floors with a HEPA vacuum that is emptied in a clean room environment
    • Daily cleaning of flat surfaces and wall
    • Cleaning of roofs two times per month

Expansion to Other Metals

AQMD is also considering applying similar requirements for metal finishing operations pursuant to Rule 1426 to control fugitive emissions of other metals such as cadmium, lead, nickel, zinc and tin.

AQMD has indicated that it expects to issue the proposed rule by July 2017 and finalize it by the end of 2017. The industry is concerned that it may not be technologically or economically feasible to meet the proposed revisions. California state industry leaders and NASF representatives have met with AQMD officials this month. The industry is now in the process of evaluating options to address this significant and precedent-setting challenge to finishing operations in the region and beyond.

To view a summary of the pending regulatory actions from South Coast air regulatory officials, please click here.



CATEGORIES: Government Relations, Law & Regulation, NASF Chapters, NASF National, Uncategorized


Outlook on the Federal Regulatory Agenda: A Tectonic Shift in Washington

POSTED: January 23, 2017

The Trump Administration and Republican leaders in Congress have launched 2017 with several early actions on an agenda that, if implemented, would represent a tectonic shift in the U.S. regulatory landscape, particularly in the areas of environment, labor, health and safety.

Nominees and Advisors

The president’s nominees to head key agencies – Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for the Environmental Protection Agency and burger chain executive Andy Puzder for Department of Labor – are widely known critics of the federal bureaucracy and government overreach. Pruitt led states’ efforts in recent years in major lawsuits against EPA. Puzder, who battled regulation in California, has warned that overly strict labor laws will lead employers to replacing workers with machines. Both nominees are now awaiting Senate confirmation.

The president also recently named activist investor and billionaire Carl Icahn as his special advisor on regulatory overhaul. He promised a regulatory moratorium and a rollback of key Obama Administration executive orders and memos on a host of topics. That’s exactly what’s transpired since Trump took office.

The President’s EPA transition team chief, libertarian think-tank advocate Myron Ebell, recently called the environment movement “the greatest threat to freedom.” He suggested last week that EPA’s budget should be cut by two-thirds, from 15,000 to 5,000 employees.

Executive Orders and a Regulatory Freeze

The President just this week signed an executive order promising that going forward for each new regulation issued, two old regulations would have to be eliminated. In announcing the policy, he noted “we’re cutting regulations massively for small business – and for large business” and that the annual impact on the economy of government rules would be “no greater than zero.”

The order follows an Inauguration Day memo from the President’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to all departments and agencies. The directive would freeze a number of recently finalized regulations for a 60-day review period. It also instructed agency heads to also consider delaying effective dates for regulations beyond the 60-day time period. The temporary moratorium on regulations is not uncommon for incoming presidents.

Indeed, several major rules that the Obama administration was speeding to the finishing line will be held up. Among them is the Department of Labor’s controversial overtime rule to boost worker pay, along with several EPA regulations.  Another on the slate is a rule to make hardrock mining operations show the financial ability to pay for contamination clean-up if closed. This is the first in a series of rules that EPA has anticipated would affect a range of industries in the future, including surface finishing.

Regulatory Reform Legislation on Capitol Hill

On Capitol Hill, Republicans with control of both legislative chambers on Capitol Hill have moved swiftly in the first few weeks of the new Congress to reshape the future of regulation. In its first week back in Washington, the House began action on and approved several regulatory relief bills, including:

  • the REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) – requires Congress to approve any agency rule estimated to have more than a $100 million cost on the U.S. economy;
  • the Regulatory Accountability Act – requires agencies to complete a number of steps on a proposed rule, including weighing the direct and indirect costs and benefits of their rules on jobs and economic growth; and
  • the Midnight Rule Relief Act – allows Congress to repeal in a single vote any rule finalized in the last 60 legislative days of the Obama administration.

Since passage in the House, the Senate is now reviewing these measures, but Democrats have promised opposition there. The bills were passed by the House in earlier Congresses but were never previously acted on by the Senate.

In addition, House leaders have assembled a first short list of major Obama-era rules for repeal in the coming days. Republican leaders have promised to use their legal authority to scuttle the regulations under a rarely used legislative tool, the Congressional Review Act. The law, enacted in 1996, has been successfully invoked by Congress only once. In 2001, Republicans used it as President George W. Bush took office to overturn a major OSHA workplace ergonomics standard from the Clinton Administration.

EPA – Selected Regulatory Targets

Several major environmental regulations that the Trump administration has targeted for elimination, reform or delay include EPA’s Clean Power Plan to set carbon emission limits on power plants, the agency’s revised ozone standard and EPA’s controversial Clean Water Rule, which would determine which rivers, lakes, streams and ponds are subject to federal jurisdiction. The U.S. Supreme Court just this month agreed to hear arguments in litigation over the water rule. For surface finishing, EPA is still reviewing whether to propose tighter wastewater discharge limits for the industry, and NASF will continue to work closely with EPA and the Trump administration to inform the agency’s decision.

Department of Labor and OSHA – Selected Regulatory Targets

One of the most controversial labor regulations advanced by the Obama Administration has been the overtime rule. The rule, which would have raised the salary threshold for exemption from overtime pay, was blocked by a Texas district court judge just before it went into effect on Dec. 1, 2016. Both the incoming White House and Republicans in Congress have argued the rule should be scrapped, along with a growing list of other Obama-era labor rules and decisions from DOL, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

On workplace safety matters, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s efforts to make major changes in recordkeeping and reporting for business have been opposed by a range of industry groups, including NASF. Among these have been OSHA’s final electronic reporting rule to put injury and illness records of employers on the internet, and the agency’s pending final rule that would allow OSHA to cite employers for alleged injury and illness recordkeeping violations up to five years old, an extension much longer than the current limit of six months.

It’s only January, and a profound shift is underway in Washington. The regulatory agenda will be in a center spotlight this year, along with further action on tax reform, trade, immigration, health care and infrastructure. NASF has been closely engaged at the agencies and will continue to monitor and inform decisions that impact the industry as the year unfolds.  Look for new updates on specific issues in play in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, we look forward to having you join us for the NASF Washington Forum in the nation’s capital on Apr. 25-27, 2017. For more information, go to www.nasf.org.

 



CATEGORIES: Business, Government Relations, International, Law & Regulation
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With Trump Regulatory Freeze, NASF Watching New EPA Superfund Clean-Up Rule’s Impact on Surface Finishing

POSTED: January 23, 2017

With the Trump administration’s aggressive focus on regulatory overhaul, one of several dozen issues the NASF has been watching is an otherwise obscure rule for the hardrock mining industry. But in early December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new Superfund cleanup rule that NASF members should watch closely. The new proposal stems from an agency hazardous waste initiative under the Obama Administration that covers surface finishing as well as several other manufacturing sectors.

The latest proposed rule, which industry anticipated throughout 2016, would subject hard rock mining companies to a determination of future cleanup responsibilities and require each company to obtain bonds or insurance or self-assure to cover the cost of that clean up.

This is an important development for NASF members and finishing operations nationwide. A few years ago, EPA listed metal finishing on the list of sectors that would be targeted for what would be new, extremely burdensome requirements under the federal Superfund law that could potentially bankrupt both small and large companies.

NASF Has Advised Dropping Financial Assurance Requirements

NASF has been monitoring the rule’s progress for several years and held discussions with EPA, arguing that the agency’s approach was misguided on several fronts. EPA more recently expanded the metal finishing category to cover more facilities in the larger fabricated metals sector.

Outgoing EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus, who heads the federal hazardous waste program, argues that the agency’s approach of requiring a company to secure a bond, letter of credit or other financial assurance mechanisms would lead to more cleanups in the United States.

“This proposed rule, once finalized, would move the financial burden from taxpayers and ensure that industry assumes responsibility for these cleanups,” Stanislaus said. “The proposed rule would also give companies an economic incentive to use environmentally protective practices that can help prevent future releases.”

Mining Industry Shared “Case Study” with NASF Members in Washington

This past year, attendees at the NASF Washington Forum heard from National Mining Association’s Tawny Bridgeford, who highlighted the mining industry’s experience as a “case study.” She noted that the onerous EPA requirements in the pipeline for miners would severely impact surface finishing facilities if the rules weren’t curbed early in the process.

The proposed rule, which was moving to proposal stage in December, formally identified the next group of sectors in the pipeline for financial assurance rules, specifically electric power generation, transmission and distribution, and petroleum and coal products manufacturing.

The agenda of the new Trump administration will clearly have some bearing on the outcome of the mining and other regulations during 2017. Because the agency released its proposal so late in the year, the new temporary regulatory moratorium just announced by the White House over inauguration weekend is expected to delay and possibly derail it. More shortly.



CATEGORIES: Business, Government Relations, International, Law & Regulation
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NASF Closely Watching New EPA Superfund Clean Up Rule’s Impact on Surface Finishing

POSTED: December 6, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in early December proposed a new Superfund cleanup rule that NASF members should watch closely. The new proposal stems from an agency hazardous waste initiative under the Obama Administration that covers metal finishing as well as several other manufacturing sectors.

The latest proposed rule, which industry anticipated throughout 2016, would subject hard rock mining companies to a determination of future cleanup responsibilities and require each company to obtain bonds or insurance or self-assure to cover the cost of that clean up.

This is an important development for NASF members and finishing operations nationwide. A few years ago, EPA listed metal finishing on the list of sectors that would be targeted for what would be new, extremely burdensome requirements under the federal Superfund law that could potentially bankrupt both small and large companies.

NASF Has Advised Dropping Financial Assurance Requirements

NASF has been monitoring the rule’s progress for several years and held discussions with EPA, arguing that the agency’s approach was misguided on several fronts. EPA more recently expanded the metal finishing category to cover more facilities in the larger fabricated metals sector.

Outgoing EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus, who heads the federal hazardous waste program, argues that the agency’s approach of requiring a company to secure a bond, letter of credit or other financial assurance mechanisms would lead to more cleanups in the U.S.

“This proposed rule, once finalized, would move the financial burden from taxpayers, and ensure that industry assumes responsibility for these cleanups,” Stanislaus said. “The proposed rule would also give companies an economic incentive to use environmentally protective practices that can help prevent future releases.”

Mining Industry Shared “Case Study” with NASF Members in Washington

This past year, attendees at the NASF Washington Forum heard from National Mining Association’s Tawny Bridgeford, who highlighted the mining industry’s experience as a “case study.” She noted that the onerous EPA requirements in the pipeline for miners would severely impact surface finishing facilities if the rules weren’t curbed early in the process.

The proposed rule, which wasn’t yet published in the Federal Register at press time, formally identified the next group of sectors in the pipeline for financial assurance rules, specifically electric power generation, transmission and distribution, petroleum, and coal products manufacturing.

The results of the presidential election, however, clearly will have some bearing on the outcome of the regulations in 2017. Because the agency released its proposal so late in the year, it’s possible that a new EPA under the incoming Trump administration will elect not to make the rule final in the new year.



CATEGORIES: Business, Government Relations, Law & Regulation


Washington Forum, April 25 – 27, 2017: Register Now

POSTED: December 1, 2016

April 25-27, 2017

Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City

Arlington, Virginia

Each year, the NASF Washington Forum offers both strategic and practical updates from top thought leaders and decision makers on the challenges that impact the surface finishing industry. This year’s event included a day and a half of sessions and networking followed by an optional day of meetings with legislators and congressional staff. The 2017 Forum will continue to deliver. With the election settled and a new administration coming to Washington, attendees will get first-hand the most significant news on how decisions in and outside of Washington will affect their businesses in 2017 and the coming years.



CATEGORIES: Events, Government Relations, Law & Regulation


TSCA Reform: NASF Focuses on Implementing New U.S. Chemicals Law

POSTED: December 1, 2016

NASF is a member of the North American Metals Council (NAMC) that monitors North American and global regulatory issues that impact the use of metals. The association has worked closely with groups like NAMC to ensure that the risks associated with metals are appropriately addressed in new chemical regulations.

NAMC has prepared a working document that identifies a timeline for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to achieve the mandates identified in the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg) that amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In addition, EPA has also posted its first-year implementation plan on its website at: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/frank-r-lautenberg-chemical-safety-21st-century-act-2.

Provided below are some of the key dates for implementing the new TSCA Reform requirements for issues affecting metals.

December 2016

  • EPA will need to propose three rulemakings for public review and comment by mid-December to achieve the final rulemaking deadlines mandated in TSCA Reform legislation:

1. Establish screening process for prioritization (to achieve June 22, 2017 deadline for final rulemaking);

2. Process to conduct risk evaluations (to achieve June 22, 2017 deadline for final rulemaking); and

3. Inventory reset process (to achieve June 22, 2017 deadline for final rulemaking).

  • EPA must “ensure” risk evaluation work has begun on ten chemicals from TSCA Chemical Work Plan.
  • EPA must submit a report to Congress on its capacity to complete the risk evaluations required under the TSCA Reform legislation.

June 22, 2017

  • EPA must issue a final rulemaking to establish a screening process that includes prioritization criteria.
  • EPA must issue a final rulemaking on its process to conduct risk evaluations.
  • EPA must issue guidance for stakeholders on developing and submitting draft risk evaluations.
  • EPA must issue a final rulemaking for Inventory reset — notification on chemicals manufactured or processed over the last 10 years.

June 2017 through December 2018

  • Although not specified in the TSCA Reform legislation or in EPA’s implementation plan, it seems evident that EPA will need to begin negotiations on limiting byproduct reporting under the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule to achieve the proposed rulemaking deadline of June 22, 2019.

June 22, 2018

  • EPA to issue policies, procedures, and guidance necessary for implementing amended TSCA.

June 22, 2019

  • EPA must issue proposed rulemaking for risk management on TSCA Work Plan Chemicals identified as persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic from the 2014 TSCA Work Plan, with likely exposure to the general population that were not subject to Section 5 review or to a consent agreement under Section 4.
  • EPA must propose rulemaking to limit reporting requirements for recycled, reused, or reprocessed inorganic byproducts.
  • EPA must issue a final rulemaking on information to be provided in periodic reports for persons who manufacture mercury or mercury-added products or otherwise intentionally use mercury in a manufacturing process.

December 22, 2019

  • EPA must “ensure” that risk evaluations are being conducted on at least 20 high-priority substances and that at least 20 chemicals have been designated as low-priority substances.
  • EPA must issue a final rulemaking on recycled, reused, or reprocessed inorganic byproducts and CDR reporting.

The timeline summarized above is subject to change as EPA works to meet the challenges of implementing the obligations under the new legislation. NASF will continue to review the new requirements associated with the implementation of the new TSCA Reform legislation and provide updates to members.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Jeff Hannapel with NASF at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.



CATEGORIES: Government Relations, Law & Regulation


NASF Provides Training Session for EPA on Plating Industry Air Rule

POSTED: December 1, 2016

EPA Region V Office of Enforcement recently identified some common problems with compliance with the plating and polishing NESHAP rule for area sources (40 CFR Part 63, Subpart WWWWWW), and then asked the state Small Business Environmental Assistance Programs (SBEAPs) in Region 5 (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI) to see if they can work with the industry to facilitate compliance.

The SBEAP representatives contacted NASF representatives in each state and invited them to participate in a dialogue to develop the best approach to facilitate further compliance with the plating and polishing area source rule. During these discussions the NASF representatives noted that some of the compliance issues identified by EPA may be the result of misinterpretations and confusion regarding the implementation of the rule requirements and indicated the industry’s willingness to assist in the development of guidance to ensure continued compliance with the requirements of the plating and polishing rule.   Specifically, NASF agreed to present a compliance training session on the rule for SBEAP and EPA officials.

On November 15, 2016, NASF representatives, Joelie Zak and Jeff Zak of Scientific Control Laboratories and Jeff Hannapel of The Policy Group, went to the EPA Region 5 offices in Chicago and provided a training session and informal discussion on the plating and polishing rule for a small group of SBEAP and EPA Region 5 officials.  The group included SBEAP representatives from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, as well as officials form EPA Region 5 enforcement and air toxics offices.

The training sessions focused on fundamental plating processes and the requirements of the rule, particularly with regards to how the industry demonstrates compliance with the management practices and the use of wetting agents and fume suppressants. The presentation and discussion was well received and much appreciated by the audience of regulators.  While the EPA enforcement officials did not necessarily agree with NASF and SBEAP representatives on the scope of the potential compliance issues with the rule requirements, all parties agreed to develop guidance that could provide further clarification for industry and agency inspectors on how the rule must be implemented.  This guidance will be shared with surface finishing facilities that may be subject to the rule and agency inspectors and other regulators who are charged with implementing and enforcing the requirements of the rule.

The partnership among the NASF, EPA, and the SBEAP representatives continues to be a very constructive process. NASF will disseminate compliance assistance and guidance on the applicable requirements of the plating and polishing rule to promote ongoing compliance with the rule for the surface finishing industry.

For more information regarding the plating polishing area source rule and the industry’s efforts to promote compliance with EPA and the states, please contact Jeff Hannapel with NASF at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.



CATEGORIES: Education, Government Relations, Law & Regulation


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