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June 23, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The deadline for many US employers to report workplace injury records under a new electronic recordkeeping rule is upon us, but there’s one big hitch. The website that they’re required to use to submit information doesn’t yet exist.

OSHA has yet to post the online submission form that’s central to the new Final Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries. The rule, put in place in May 2016, requires many employers to electronically submit workplace injury and illness data to OSHA. While there is legal action pending against the new regulation, a federal judge in Texas said last month that he won’t rule on the case until after the July 1 deadline for injury reporting submissions.

Employers are currently on the hook to comply with the rule before the deadline, because the same jurist, Judge Sam Lindsay of the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, previously ruled against a preliminary injunction to stop provisions of the rule from taking effect during the legal challenge.

OSHA offers forms for recordkeeping on its website, but the page that the agency promised to post so that employers can upload their records wasn’t available yet (as of this magazine’s press date). The main webpage pertaining to recordkeeping states that OSHA is not accepting electronic submissions of injury and illness logs. Updates will be posted on www.osha.gov/recordkeeping when they are available.

Employers required to submit injury reports electronically under the new rule include those with more than 250 employees that are required to keep records of workplace injuries, and those with between 20 and 249 employees that are in certain high-risk industries, including construction and manufacturing.

The rule does not require employers to keep records they were not previously required to maintain, but changes the way the Department of Labor receives and publicizes the information. OSHA says the information collected will be made public, but also holds that no information made public will include personally identifiable information about individuals injured on the job.

According to Judge Lindsay’s April ruling, the Plaintiffs in the case have until July 5 to submit a proposed summary judgment briefing, and attorneys for the Labor Department have until the same date to respond to motions to intervene.

June 22, 2017

CANBERRA, Australia—Corrosion on a steel sculpture has led to a large repair bill for the government in one Australian territory, and the problem reportedly stems from a failure to apply needed primer when the piece was first installed.

The Toku sculpture stands in Canberra’s Nara Peace Park, a tribute to the Australian capital’s sister city in Nara, Japan. It was designed by artist Shinki Kato, and created in 2010. Its lack of proper coating has led to rapid corrosion and deterioration.

The sculpture’s rust problem was due to a lack of primer, which caused the paint on the piece to strip away. The internal surfaces were also untreated, which contributed to the deterioration. In addition, the artist used a special decorative paint containing a silicon additive to create a hammered effect, which may have compounded the problem.

Because the corrosion problem was discovered outside of the warranty period for the piece, the government of the Australian Capital Territory has been left footing the more than $66,000 bill for repairs. A pair of restoration companies were hired to address the issue. The sculpture was removed, blasted, and recoated to stop the rust and protect the structure, while restoring its original aesthetic as much as possible.

June 21, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A rule that would have required contractors seeking work on federal projects to disclose violations, including wage and hour laws, health and safety rules, and civil rights protections, was struck down by President Donald J. Trump.

In order to overturn the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, also known as the blacklisting rule, lawmakers employed the Congressional Review Act, a rarely used legislative tool. In a close vote, the Senate passed H.J. Res. 37 on March 6. The House approved the measure in February. The rule was repealed when the President signed H.J. Res. 37 on March 28.

Originally issued in July 2014 and amended in August 2016, the rule was scheduled to go into effect October 25, 2016, implementing President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13673. The month the rule was set to go into effect, a federal court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction against the provisions.

The rule would have required businesses bidding for federal contracts over $500,000 to disclose not only civil and administrative proceedings against them, but also violations of any of the 14 listed workplace protections in the past 3 years. According to the Department of Labor, the final rule was meant to ensure that contractors who don’t follow the rules aren’t rewarded with federal contracts, and those who do are given a fair chance. Opponents feared that the rule imposed a sweeping new regulatory scheme on federal contractors that would disrupt the federal procurement process, significantly increase red tape and costs for both government and industry, and serve as a barrier to entry to federal contracting for many businesses.

June 20, 2017

PITTSBURGH, Pa.—After 2 weeks of deliberation and one meeting with PPG Industries, Amsterdam-based AkzoNobel has rejected PPG’s third proposal for a merger between the two companies. The new proposal came in at about $28.8 billion. PPG’s first and second offers, of $22.8 billion and $26.3 billion, were both rejected.

AkzoNobel stated that it engaged in an extensive review and careful consideration of the third bid, but determined that its stakeholders would be better suited by its plan to accelerate growth by spinning off its Specialty Chemicals business as a separate entity from its Paints and Coatings business. In response, PPG stated that AkzoNobel refused to negotiate and that the meeting was called hastily and did not involve a discussion about AkzoNobel’s concerns regarding the merger plan or its alternative strategy for growth.

In rejecting the latest proposal, AkzoNobel cited many of the same issues it noted previously with regard to PPG’s merger bid. The offer undervalues the company, includes regulatory risks, would take up to 18 months to complete, contains uncertainty because of its scale, and does not fully address AkzoNobel’s concerns about its employees and its commitment to sustainability. PPG is currently the largest coatings company in the world, with AkzoNobel second. A merger with AkzoNobel would be the largest acquisition PPG has ever taken on.

In response to the proposal rejection, PPG issued a new statement reiterating that the Pittsburgh-based firm still favors the idea of combining the two companies. PPG remains willing to meet with AkzoNobel to engage in meaningful discussions, but that without productive engagement, PPG will assess and decide whether or not to pursue an offer for AkzoNobel.

It is possible that PPG may consider a hostile takeover bid for AkzoNobel. Bloomberg reports that PPG Chairman and CEO Michael McGarry has said he will pursue a takeover if AkzoNobel is not willing to negotiate by June 1. In a hostile takeover, a company seeking to acquire another firm appeals directly to the firm’s shareholders in order to circumvent resistance from executives. The practice can also include attempting to have executives at the firm replaced.

June 14, 2017

ORANGE CITY, Iowa—Diamond Vogel Paint has broken ground for an addition of 91,000 square feet to its existing Peridium Powder Coatings production facility in Orange City, Iowa. The 5-year, $30 million expansion plan will more than double the facility’s current size. There are currently 10 production lines in the powder coating plant, and this expansion will allow room for 15 more lines.

Diamond Vogel, which is celebrating 90 years of service this year, provides coating products to the architectural, heavy-duty protective, industrial, traffic, and powder coating markets. The Peridium Powder Coatings technologies include TGIC polyester, hybrid, urethane, and epoxy.

June 13, 2017

TAYLOR MILL, Ky.—The Industrial Heating Equipment Association (IHEA) will hold its 2017 Fall Seminars at the Westin Poinsett in Greenville, S.C., on September 19-20.

IHEA’s 48th Annual Combustion Seminar and its annual Safety Standards and Codes Seminar will take place over both days. The Induction Seminar will be a half-day event on September 19. Attendees to all events will also enjoy access to IHEA’s Tabletop Exhibition & Reception on September 19.

Held concurrently, the Combustion Seminar features industry professionals from leading heat processing companies who deliver pertinent information in combustion technologies. The comprehensive Safety Standards and Codes Seminar covers critical safety information for those involved with a wide range of industrial thermprocess applications. The safety seminar speakers have a first-hand working knowledge in the development of the NFPA 86 standard. IHEA’s newly developed Induction Division has created a concise, half-day seminar that highlights the basics of induction technology, the applications and equipment used, and the advantages of induction for improving plant operations.

These classes offer the perfect mix of technical information and the opportunity to attend the tabletop exhibit to interact with speakers and suppliers of the products and services discussed throughout all three seminars.

Details are being finalized for these educational seminars and combined tabletop exhibition. For more info, visit www.ihea.org.

June 12, 2017

COLUMBUS, Wis.—A federal investigation prompted by the death of a 17-year-old worker at a Columbus metal fabrication facility has resulted in multiple safety and health violations. OSHA has issued 16 serious and one other-than-serious safety and health violations to G.D. Roberts & Co. Inc. for violations the agency’s inspectors found after a machine pinned and injured the teenaged worker in June 2016. He died of his injuries.

Investigators determined the worker was clearing scrap below a loading table for an operating laser-cutter system when the machine lowered onto the victim, trapping him beneath. OSHA found that the company failed to ensure procedures were followed to lockout the machine to prevent unintentional movement, and did not train its employees properly in such safety procedures.

The agency also found G.D. Roberts failed to conduct periodic inspections of machine safety procedures, conduct noise monitoring, train workers about noise hazards, follow respiratory protection standards, evaluate for airborne hazards, and more. OSHA has proposed penalties of $119,725. The company fabricates metal trailers, and has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.

June 9, 2017

GAINESVILLE, Tex.—Polychem, a division of IFS Coatings Inc., has launched its Antique Collection, which features 10 shades of antique whites, warm brass, and rich coppers in a variety of finishes. Polychem specializes in color and effect creation, with more than 15,000 existing colors and 14 different color collections.

June 8, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A panel of federal judges has denied a request from industry groups to delay proceedings in a court case that challenges the new federal respirable silica rule, a request that the petitioners had hoped would give the Trump administration time to consider whether or not to defend the rule.

The ongoing case, N. Amer. Bldg. Trades Unions v. OSHA, pits both industry groups and some unions against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which put the new rule in place last year. Industry groups have expressed concerns about how protection requirements were determined, while unions challenging the law are concerned with provisions related to free silica testing and protection for workers who need to be removed from a worksite as a result of silica exposure.

OSHA issued its final rule on respirable silica exposure in March 2016. The updated rule reduces the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift. The final rule also includes key provisions that require employers to use engineering controls and work practices to limit worker exposure, provide respiratory protection when controls are not able to limit exposures to the permissible level, limit access to high-exposure areas, train workers, and provide medical exams to highly exposed workers.

Two rules were issued, one for the construction industry and one for general industry. Employers covered by the construction standard have until June 23, 2017, to comply with most requirements, while employers covered by the general industry and maritime standard have until June 23, 2018. OSHA recently issued a Small Entity Compliance Guide for the smaller businesses working to comply with the new silica rule.

Silica is one of Earth’s most common minerals, found in stone, rock, brick, mortar, and block. Exposure to airborne silica dust occurs in operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of concrete, brick, block, and other stone products and in operations using sand products, such as in glass manufacturing, foundries, and abrasive blasting. Studies indicate that breathing in silica dust can lead to the debilitating and potentially fatal pulmonary disease silicosis as well as lung cancer.

The suit, filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, required final briefs by March 23. Industry groups, which oppose the measure on a broader scale, had sought a 60-day delay, in hopes that the extra time would give the new presidential administration time to consider the case, and possibly drop the government’s defense of the rule. Union groups, which seek more specific changes to the rule, petitioned to move forward with the case. The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel came with no further explanation. It simply says the motion for a delay was denied.

June 7, 2017

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—A California infrared instrumentation company has laid claim to the so-called “world’s blackest black” coating, making a deal with the ultrablack material’s developers for its exclusive use in blackbody calibration sources. Santa Barbara Infrared (SBIR) announced that it has entered into an agreement with U.K.-based Surrey Nanosystems, the creators of Vantablack SVIS. Vantablack SVIS is the spray-applied version of Vantablack, a carbon-nanotube coating that absorbs 99.96 percent of all light that hits it. The coating reflects so little light, it can be hard to perceive the shape and texture of an object coated with it. SVIS is slightly less black than the original coating, but more versatile.

Vantablack made waves when it was first announced in 2014, and caused controversy in the art world earlier this year when artist Anish Kapoor announced he had won exclusive rights to use the color in art. The coating has been viewed as an important development for aerospace and military applications, among other fields. In addition to absorbing nearly all visible light, Vantablack is said to have exceptional infrared absorption, as well as mechanical, thermal, and environmental stability.

Blackbody sources are used in testing and calibration of radiation thermometers and thermal imagers. They are tools that exhibit high emission and high absorption at a specific temperature. SBIR makes and tests infrared cameras and other thermal imaging tools for space, military, and commercial uses.

June 6, 2017

ETNA GREEN, Ind.—Winona Powder Coating has announced the completion of its batch line to handle products up to 32 feet long. Opened in August 2013, the 167,000-square-foot facility currently houses state-of-the-art powder coating lines, including sand blasting, wheelabrating, and the expanded batch system. The company is a leading supplier of powder coating services to large industrial companies throughout the Midwest.

June 5, 2017

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa.—After two successful pilots, ASTM International, a global standards organization, is expanding its Emerging Professionals program. The program will provide free airfare and lodging this year for up to 24 participants to attend a leadership development workshop held during an ASTM International conference where technical experts in their industries create and revise standards.

The program aims to identify candidates who have some familiarity with standards and who have strong potential to be future leaders in one or more of the organization’s 145 technical committees. Winning applicants will receive roundtrip airfare to the committee-week location and two nights of accommodations. During their stay, they will receive: a thorough introduction to standards development, mentoring from a seasoned standards professional in their industry, and a professionally led leadership workshop on negotiation, consensus building, and problem solving. ASTM International members and others are welcome to nominate individuals through www.astm.org/emergingprofessionals.

June 2, 2017

PEABODY, Mass.—Solvent Kleene Inc. has released D-Zolve 917, which is a fast-acting, multipurpose product that dissolves rust and removes powder coatings, liquid paint, CARC, and other difficult to strip coatings. Designed for use in an immersion tank, the product can penetrate and break the bond between the surface layer and the underlying substrate, causing a coating to peel away or rust to be dissolved.

June 1, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The US Department of Labor (DOL) has launched a new website to help employers and workers know the difference between an employee and an independent contractor, and the consequences if workers are misclassified.

Misclassification occurs when an employer deliberately classifies a worker who is an employee under the law as something else, generally an independent contractor. Workers who are denied employee status can miss out on wage and benefit guarantees that apply to employees. Factors that play into whether an employee should be called an employee or a contractor include the nature of the work, the importance of the employer’s business to the worker, the permanency of the relationship, and the degree of control the employer displays.

The new website features information for both employers and employees regarding their rights and responsibilities in relation to misclassification. In addition to a page dispelling myths, it includes a link to the whistleblower rights website for employees who believe they are being misclassified. For employers, it includes fact sheets on federal law related to group health plans and retirement programs.

May 31, 2017

WALWORTH, N.Y.—McAlpin Industries has opened a new 120,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and warehousing facility in Walworth, N.Y., which features a new powder coating line and operation. The family-owned metalworking company will also continue its operations in Rochester, N.Y., where it has been headquartered for more than 50 years. The new plant will be home to metal stamping, robotic welding, and powder coating operations as the company expands its assembly and warehousing functions.

May 30, 2017

MOLINE, Ill.—Under terms of a settlement agreement, a pipefitter previously employed by John Deere will receive a total of $204,315 in back wages and front pay and $70,685 in other damages. Deere & Co., which operates as John Deere, signed the settlement agreement with OSHA in December.

The agreement resolves a lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Central District of Illinois in July 2015 under the anti-retaliation provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The lawsuit alleged the pipefitter was terminated from the Moline facility in June 2012 after reporting unsafe working conditions and filing a complaint with OSHA after the company failed to correct one of the unsafe conditions.

Deere did not admit liability in the case, but has agreed to pay the pipefitter $111,512 in back wages, $92,803 in front pay, compensation in lieu of reinstatement, as well as $32,000 in compensatory damages and $38,685 in unspecified damages. The agreement allows for the company to make the payments in three installments to be paid in full by January 2018.

John Deere, which manufactures agricultural, construction, and forestry machinery as well as diesel engines used in heavy equipment and lawn care equipment, also agreed to post OSHA’s Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law poster and OSHA Fact Sheet: Your Rights as a Whistleblower in a conspicuous place at all its workplaces.

An investigation by OSHA found the pipefitter was dismissed in 2012, allegedly in retaliation for reporting unsafe working conditions at the Moline facility to OSHA on three separate occasions. OSHA’s subsequent investigations cited hazards at the facility in April 2010, January 2012, and May 2012.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise concerns or provide information to their employer or the government under any of these laws. Employees who believe they are a victim of retaliation for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with OSHA’s whistleblower program.

May 25, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Federal regulators have finalized a new rule limiting workplace exposure to beryllium, a metal that is present in some blasting abrasives and has been linked to lung disease. The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced its final rule in January, publishing the regulation in the Federal Register. The rule comprises three separate standards for general industry, shipyards, and construction.

The new rule reduces the 8-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) for airborne beryllium from 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter, a limit that applies to all industries. If beryllium exposure is greater than the PEL, employers must take extra steps, including providing engineering controls, medical exams, or medical surveillance. The rule also establishes a short-term exposure limit of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter over a 15-minute sampling period.

Beryllium is a component of coal, certain rock materials, volcanic dust, and soil used in several industrial applications. Breathing air containing beryllium can deposit beryllium particles in the lungs, presenting immune system and respiratory risks. Beryllium is a known human carcinogen and can cause chronic lung disease.

OSHA notes in its rule that workers performing abrasive blasting can be exposed to fine particles of beryllium when the abrasive media contains the metal, as coal and copper slag sometimes do. Beryllium levels in abrasives are generally very low, but because of the fine dust generated in the blasting process, it can still be dangerous.

All three rules require employers to develop a written exposure control plan for minimizing cross contamination, including preventing the transfer of beryllium between surfaces, equipment, clothing, materials, and articles within beryllium work areas.

Compliance enforcement dates will come over the next 3 years, depending on industry. Most provisions will be required to be in place 1 year after the rule’s effective date, but employers will have a longer time to implement aspects like change rooms, showers, and engineering controls.

May 24, 2017

WICHITA, Kans.—JR Custom Metal Products has added a new powder coating system designed and installed by IntelliFinishing. The system features zone control to vary the conveyor speeds in zones and independent of the system, automated shot blast, a dual-lane oven to allow different cure times based on part thicknesses, and more. The family-owned company specializes in material handling equipment and production support equipment for large OEM companies in various industries.

May 23, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis, which shows that releases of toxic chemicals into the air fell 56 percent from 2005 to 2015 at industrial facilities submitting data to the TRI program. Action by EPA, state, and tribal regulators and the regulated community has helped dramatically lower toxic air emissions over the past 10 years.

The report shows an 8 percent decrease from 2014 to 2015 at facilities reporting to the program. Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, toluene, and mercury were among chemicals with significantly lower air releases at TRI-covered facilities. Medical professionals have associated these toxic air pollutants with health effects that include damage to developing nervous systems and respiratory irritation.

Combined hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid air releases fell more than 566 million pounds, mercury more than 76,000 pounds, and toluene more than 32 million pounds at TRI-covered facilities. Coal- and oil-fired electric utilities accounted for more than 90 percent of nationwide reductions in air releases of hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and mercury from 2005 to 2015 in facilities reporting to the program. This trend is helping protect millions of families and children from these harmful pollutants. Reasons for these reductions include a shift from coal to other fuel sources, the installation of control technologies, and implementation of environmental regulations.

In 2015, of the nearly 26 billion pounds of total chemical waste managed at TRI-covered industrial facilities, approximately 92 percent was not released into the environment due to the use of preferred waste management practices such as recycling, energy recovery, and treatment. This calculation does not include the metal mining sector, which presents only limited opportunities for pollution prevention.

EPA, states, and tribes receive TRI data annually from facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste management. Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), facilities must report their toxic chemical releases for the prior calendar year to EPA by July 1 of each year. The Pollution Prevention Act also requires facilities to submit information on pollution prevention and other waste management activities of TRI chemicals. Nearly 22,000 facilities submitted TRI data for calendar year 2015.

This year’s report also includes a section highlighting the new Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. This section focuses on the overlap between TRI chemicals and chemicals designated as Work Plan chemicals by EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

May 22, 2017

TORONTO, Ont.—Hannover Fairs (HF) Canada, Deutsche Messe’s Canadian subsidiary, has formed a partnership with SME to co-locate the Industrial Automation; Motion, Drive & Automation; ComVac; parts2clean; and CeMAT trade shows with the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show (CMTS). The co-located trade shows will take place from September 25-28, 2017, at The International Centre in Mississauga, Ont.

CMTS is a biennial manufacturing event that will draw more than 9,000 attendees to connect with more than 700 exhibiting companies represented. The event showcases the latest advancements in machine tools, tooling, metal forming and fabricating, and advanced manufacturing applications.

The five industrial technology events represent several industry sectors, including industrial automation, power transmission, fluid technology and motion control, compressed-air and vacuum technology, surface finishing, and logistics systems and equipment.

May 18, 2017

NORFOLK, Va.—Katharine Morgan has been named as the president of ASTM International, one of the world’s largest standards development organizations. She succeeds James A. Thomas, who served in the role for 25 years. Morgan is a 33-year veteran of ASTM International, and is one of the world’s most prominent voices on standardization-related issues.

May 17, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Several members of Congress are working on a strategy to roll back a pending rule that would subject federal contractors to increased scrutiny regarding past labor and safety violations. Originally issued in July 2014 and amended in August 2016, the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Rule was scheduled to go into effect October 25, 2016, implementing President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13673. The month the rule was set to go into effect, a federal court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction against the provisions.

The rule requires businesses seeking federal contracts of over $500,000 to disclose not only civil and administrative proceedings against them, but also violations of any of 14 listed workplace protections in the past 3 years. The rule is referred to by critics as the blacklisting rule.

While a legal challenge against the rule is still pending, members of Congress are employing a legislative strategy to try to make the controversial measure disappear. The US House Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx has introduced a bill that provides for congressional disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to invalidate the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council and US Department of Labor’s blacklist rule.

The joint resolution of disapproval now goes to the Senate for a vote. Some experts say the rarely used legislative tool may be successful in this case, with President Donald J. Trump in the White House and Republicans currently in control of both houses of Congress.

The Department of Labor holds that the new rule, which is supported by some labor organizations, ensures contractors who don’t follow the rules aren’t rewarded with federal contracts, and those who do are given a fair chance. Opponents, however, fear that the rule imposes a sweeping new regulatory scheme on federal contractors that will disrupt the federal procurement process, significantly increase red tape and costs for both government and industry, and serve as a barrier to entry to federal contracting for many businesses.

May 16, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Occupational injury and illness data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed a significant drop in the rate of recordable workplace injuries and illnesses in 2015, continuing a pattern of decline that, apart from 2012, has occurred annually for the last 13 years.

Private industry employers reported about 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2015, representing a decline of about 48,000 from 2014, despite an increase in total hours worked. The rate of cases recorded was 3.0 cases per 100 full-time workers, down from 3.2 in 2014. The rate is the lowest recorded since at least 2002, when OSHA recordkeeping requirements were modified. Despite the decline, approximately 2.9 million private sector workers suffered nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2015.

May 15, 2017

MOSINEE, Wis.—Federal safety inspectors have recommended fines totaling $171,169 for a Wisconsin aluminum extrusion and coating services business following the June 14, 2016, death of a 51-year-old worker.

A federal investigation, prompted by a death on the anodizing line at Crystal Finishing Systems’ facility in Mosinee, Wis., has resulted in multiple alleged safety violations. OSHA issued three repeat, four serious, and three other-than-serious safety citations to the Schofield-based company.

Federal investigators determined the worker suffered fatal injuries when an automated crane pinned him between the crane hook and dip tank load bars as it moved product to different tanks on an anodizing line, authorities said. The employee was pronounced dead at the scene.

The company has 15 days to request an informal conference with the area director or contest the fines. Founded in 1993, the company specializes in aluminum extrusion and fabrication, high performance coatings, powder coating, plastics coating, e-coating, and anodizing.

May 12, 2017

CONGERS, N.Y.—The Masters Association of Metal Finishers (MAMF), which consists of finishing shops in the New York and New Jersey area, will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a Centennial Celebration on Saturday, April 8. The organization is gearing up for the celebration, highlighting 100 years of service to its community of industrial finishers.

MAMF was formed in 1917 and is one of the oldest surface finishing associations in the US, formed shortly after American Electroplaters Society formed in 1913. The organization works to educate and promote the metal finishing industry, and supports local and federal regulations governing environmental and worker protection policies.

Serving as an affiliate of the National Association of Surface Finishers (NASF), MAMF operates to provide a localized voice and serve as an advocate on issues impacting the metal finishing industry.

May 11, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—After multiple delays, the anti-retaliation provisions of a new OSHA rule went into effect in December after a federal judge rejected an industry request for an injunction to further postpone their implementation.

The “Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” was originally set to go into effect in August, but was delayed until November. Then it was again pushed back to December amid legal challenges from employers and organizations, including the Associated Builders and Contractors and the National Association of Manufacturers.

The suit against OSHA, which centers around several controversial provisions, including one barring some post-accident drug testing, will go on, and the federal judge’s refusal to issue a preliminary injunction does not mean the rule will necessarily withstand the challenge. It does, however, mean that OSHA may begin enforcing the rule as planned, unless and until the court rules against it in the suit. Judge Sam Lindsay issued his ruling on the preliminary injunction request on November 28, 2016.

The new rule has two main parts: an electronic recordkeeping and reporting requirement for on-the-job injuries and illnesses, and a set of anti-retaliation requirements. The anti-retaliation provisions seek to protect employees from actions that could be taken by an employer in retaliation for reporting an injury or illness.

Some employers have argued that the rules go too far, and in some cases are unenforceable. Under the new rule, for example, an employer is prohibited from administering a drug test to an employee after a workplace incident, unless “drug use is likely to have contributed to the incident,” and only if “the drug test can accurately identify impairment caused by drug use.” The aim is to ensure that employees don’t keep quiet about a workplace injury for fear of being subject to a drug test. But, as legal experts have pointed out, most tests cannot determine impairment at the time of the incident, only how much of a drug is in the individual’s system at the time of the test. And there’s no strict definition of when drug use is likely to have contributed to an incident. Industry groups have argued that OSHA is wrong to want to prevent drug testing after workplace incidents, when drug testing can be an important tool in analyzing what went wrong.

Other aspects of the anti-retaliation provisions include banning practices like rewards (such as pizza parties) when a workplace goes a given period of time without a reported injury, because such practices could discourage employees from reporting incidents.

While the plaintiffs in the suit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, sought to delay the enforcement of the rule until the court could come to a decision on its legality, Judge Lindsay ruled that they did not show that they would suffer “irreparable harm” if the rule was enforced in the interim. Analysts note that Judge Lindsay, in his ruling, did not suggest that the plaintiffs lack a case, simply that they could not meet the burden of proof necessary to put an immediate stop to enforcement.

May 9, 2017

BOSTON, Mass.—New coatings could produce a range of colors based on nanostructures rather than pigments, says a group of researchers at work on a thin, scratch-resistant coating they say could be a real revolution. The team, led by Harvard University’s Henning Galinski and including researchers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia) and ETH Zurich (Switzerland), released its findings in the journal Light: Science & Applications.

This is not the first research foray into color-changing coatings, or the underpinning idea of structural coloration, but the team says it’s a major step toward scalable versions of the technology, which could have applications from buildings to cars and airplanes.

The idea of structural coloration involves biological nanostructures that allow seemingly colorless materials to reflect light in ways that create a colorful appearance. That is, color that’s in the structure itself, rather than a pigment or dye. It’s how we see color in some plant materials, insects, and birds like peacocks or the plum-throated cotinga, which served as an inspiration for the researchers on the coating project.

The new development, according to King Abdullah University, involves spraying a platinum aluminum alloy onto the substrate, then removing most of the aluminum and ultimately combining dealloyed subwavelength structures at the nanoscale with loss-less, ultrathin dielectrics coatings.

The coating starts out transparent. Then, an ultrathin layer of sapphire is infused into the coating. Sapphire is an especially hard mineral, already used in glass to make scratch-resistant windows and screens for electronics. The sapphire lends hardness and abrasion resistance to the coated surface, and also engenders the color-shifting abilities of the coating. The thickness of the sapphire determines the color the coating takes on, because the sapphire particles fill nanopores in the coating in different ways at different thicknesses. Changing the thickness of the layer at the nano scale can generate any desired color, and because the coloration is part of the material structure, it won’t fade.

Unlike recent developments in coatings that could change color on demand, the coating isn’t ever-changing. It can, however, be tailored to any color needed, without pigments or additives. The color can be programmed into the coating as it is applied, meaning one batch of coating material could create any number of colors using the same process. Because the coating is thin, durable, and can produce any color on demand, it could be used for architectural applications and beyond. The researchers say the technology could find a place in the automotive recoat industry or even aerospace coatings.

May 8, 2017

CLEVELAND, Ohio—Following an article suggesting that the pending merger between The Sherwin-Williams Co. and Valspar was facing regulatory complications, both companies have announced that the deal remains on track and on schedule. The New York Post published an article last October citing an unnamed source in saying that a recent round of concessions offered by Sherwin-Williams had been rejected by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In response, the two companies issued a joint statement indicating that they are cooperating with the FTC and continue to expect the transaction to close by the end of the first quarter of 2017. If the proposed merger goes forward as planned, it would create a company with $15.6 billion in sales and $2.8 billion in adjusted earnings annually.

May 4, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The EPA is moving swiftly to propose how it will prioritize and evaluate chemicals, given that the final processes must be in place within the first year of the new law’s enactment, or before June 22, 2017. For the first time in 40 years, chemicals currently in the marketplace will be assessed.

When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976, it grandfathered in thousands of unevaluated chemicals that were in commerce at the time. The old law failed to provide EPA with the tools to evaluate chemicals and to require companies to generate and provide data on chemicals they produced. EPA is proposing three rules to help administer the new process — the Inventory rule, the Prioritization rule, and the Risk Evaluation rule. These three rules incorporate comments received from a series of public meetings held in August 2016.

There are currently over 85,000 chemicals on EPA’s Inventory, many of these are no longer actively produced. The Inventory rule will require manufacturers, including importers, to notify EPA and the public on the number of chemicals still being produced.

The Prioritization rule will establish how EPA will prioritize chemicals for evaluation. EPA will use a risk-based screening process and criteria to identify whether a particular chemical is either high or low priority. A chemical designated as high-priority must undergo evaluation. Chemicals designated as low-priority are not required to undergo evaluation.

The Risk Evaluation rule will establish how EPA will evaluate the risk of existing chemicals. The agency will identify steps for the risk evaluation process, including publishing the scope of the assessment. Chemical hazards and exposures will be assessed along with characterizing and determining risks. This rule also outlines how the agency intends to seek public comment on chemical evaluations.

If EPA identifies unreasonable risk in the evaluation, it is required to eliminate that risk through regulations. Under TSCA, the agency must have at least 20 ongoing risk evaluations by the end of 2019.

May 3, 2017

June 6-7: Powder Coating 101 Workshop. Houston, Tex. Sponsored by the Powder Coating Institute (PCI). Contact PCI at 859/525-9988; fax 859/356-0908; pci-info@powdercoating.org; www.powdercoating.org.

May 2, 2017

NANYANG, Singapore—Researchers are looking at coating material microstructures in order to make protective coatings even tougher. The team at A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology, and Research) has discovered how hard materials like chromium nitride, which are used as wear and corrosion protection coatings, behave when used in high-stress situations. This knowledge could lead to producing even better coatings.

Resistance to wear can be improved by increasing a material’s hardness—that is, the force it can withstand before it begins to deform. In most crystalline materials, this deformation occurs when defects (known as dislocations) start to move through a material’s crystal structure. Materials used in coatings tend to be very brittle. However, past research has shown that it can be very difficult to break crystals that are extremely small. This inspired Shiyu Liu and his team from the A*STAR Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology to see how chromium nitride based coatings deform under pressure.

After forming microscopic pillars of the materials, measuring about 380 nanometers across, they compressed the structures under a diamond flat punch in a scanning electron microscope at temperatures up to 932°F. The team found that chromium nitride based coatings made with very fine grains, those about 10 nanometers in size and separated by a thin grain boundary phase, withstood a much greater force before they deformed. In fact, deformation began at stresses very much higher than expected, and close to the theoretical maximum value from calculation. Liu’s team explains that this increase in stress resistance became evident when the grains were so small they did not contain dislocations; as a result, the applied forces had to be sufficiently large to form new dislocations within the grains. Moreover, the thin grain boundary phase was originally thought to be the main factor in determining the material’s properties. However, their research demonstrates this was not the case. As a result, this can provide a way to reliably make a hard material.

The team’s results show that the formation of a fine-grained microstructure could provide a ceramic coating with enhanced hardness and fracture toughness. Liu notes that this could be a viable approach for the development of super-hard and tough protective coatings for high-temperature and high-pressure applications.

The team plans to use the results in advanced manufacturing and engineering applications, such as protective coatings in high-speed machining tools for titanium and nickel-based alloys.

May 1, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Paint and coatings manufacturer PPG, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., is facing more than $92,000 in penalties related to worker safety issues at its facility in Westlake, La., after an employee complaint prompted a federal agency to investigate in April 2016.

The inspection resulted in citations alleging nine serious and two other-than-serious violations. OSHA inspectors reportedly found employees exposed to hazards such as corrosive materials and a leaking, 30,000-gallon hot water tank. The facility produces precipitated silicas for use in a variety of industrial and consumer applications. The citation was issued in October.

April 27, 2017

CLEVELAND, Ohio—DVUV Holdings LLC has announced a new corporate name and a reorganization and rebranding of its operating companies. The new corporate name is Keyland Polymer Material Sciences LLC. The new holdings company will include four separate operating companies: Keyland Polymer UV Application Technology LLC, Keyland Polymer UV Resins LTD, Keyland Polymer UV Powder LLC, and DVUV LLC. This new alignment will help solidify the company’s position as a global and leading developer, formulator, manufacturer, and applicator of UV-curable solid material used in UV-cured powder coatings, 3D printing, and other forms of UV-cured solid materials.

Keyland Polymer UV Application Technology offers the latest in UV/EB curing solutions of solid materials used in coatings, 3D/additive materials, and other product applications. Keyland Polymer UV Resins develops, produces, and sells solid polyester, epoxy, and other resin based products used in UV-cured solid materials. Keyland Polymer UV Powder combines UV resins with additives, pigments, and photoinitiators to produce custom and performance specific UV-curable powder coatings for a variety of substrates. DVUV produces and sells powder coated MDF wood components using UV powder.

April 26, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Two railcar cleaning facilities in different parts of the US are facing orders from the EPA over their handling of hazardous waste. One company, Dana Container, faces $12,000 in fines as part of a settlement with the EPA over the handling and labeling of containers of waste. The other, Railcar Cleaning Services LLC, has not been fined, but has been ordered to immediately take steps to protect the public from risks posed by allegedly improperly stored crude oil and ethanol.

Dana Container, Wilmington, Dela., entered into a settlement over its violations in October. The allegations stemmed from a January 2016 inspection that the EPA says uncovered violations related to hazardous materials such as benzene, vinyl acetate, and waste solvent. Allegations against Dana Container include violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) related to the failure to ship hazardous waste offsite in a timely manner, failure to keep proper records, and failure to maintain an adequate contingency plan. As part of the settlement, Dana Container did not admit liability, but certified compliance on the matters cited by the EPA.

The EPA issued what it calls an Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Administrative Order to Nebraska Railcar. The order, made under the RCRA, calls for the company to immediately engage in hazardous waste determinations at its sites, and dispose of hazardous materials as required by law. The EPA order references a deadly incident in April 2015 in which two workers were killed in an explosion at one of Nebraska Railcar’s Omaha facilities. That incident led OSHA to issue 33 violations to the company, carrying a total proposed fine of $963,000, and to place Nebraska Railcar in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Those violations, issued in October 2015, are still listed as under contest.

At the time, OSHA alleged that air quality in confined spaces was not properly monitored, and workers at the site were not properly fit-tested for respirators. Other violations related to fall hazards, lack of hazardous materials training, and more. In 2013, the company paid a total of $6,856 as part of two informal settlements with OSHA, covering a total of eight violations (three serious and five other). In 2015, as a result of a follow-up inspection, the company faced three more violations, which, after an informal settlement, cost the firm $3,800.

The agency says more recent onsite inspections indicate that the company continues to improperly manage its hazardous waste, contrary to RCRA requirements. The company is ordered to immediately address the issues presented, and to provide regular reports on its waste disposal practices to EPA Region 7. Failure to comply could result in civil penalties of at least $14,023 per violation per day.

April 24, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—OSHA has issued Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction to help industry employers develop proactive programs to keep their workplaces safe. The recommendations may be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized contractors who lack safety and health specialists on staff.

Safety and health programs encourage finding and fixing workplace hazards before they cause injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Implementing these programs also helps reduce the financial difficulties these events can cause for workers, their families, and their employers. Contractors can create a safety and health program using a number of simple steps that include training workers on how to identify and control hazards, inspecting the jobsite with workers to identify problems with equipment and materials, and developing responses to possible emergency scenarios in advance.

The recommended practices for a safety and health program are flexible and can be adjusted to fit small and large construction companies handling short-term or multi-year projects. Working with employees to implement a program can offer other benefits including improvements in production and quality, greater employee morale, improved employee recruiting and retention, and a more favorable image and reputation among customers, suppliers, and the community. These recommendations are advisory only and do not create any new legal obligations or alter existing obligations created by OSHA standards or regulations.

April 21, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.—Surface preparation equipment manufacturer and distributor Blastrac Global has acquired Nilfisk Cyclone Technology from the Nilfisk Group. The company is now considered a wholly owned subsidiary of Blastrac Global and will be known as Cyclone Technology LLC.

Cyclone Technology, Tempe, Ariz., manufactures high-pressure and low-pressure surface preparation and cleaning equipment using proprietary and patented technology. Certain models in its high-pressure line were developed for paint and marking removal, surface preparation, and seal coat removal. Products in its low-pressure line are for coated surfaces, elastomeric coatings, thermoplastic markings, and more.

April 19, 2017

May 2-3: ASTM Corrosion Testing: Application and Use of Salt Fog, Humidity, Cyclic, and Gas Tests. Akron Polymer Training Center, Akron, Ohio. Sponsored by ASTM International. Contact ASTM at 610/832-9585; fax 610/832-95555; service@astm.org; www.astm.org.

May 2-3: Powder Coating 202 Workshop. Indianapolis, Ind. Sponsored by the Powder Coating Institute (PCI). Contact PCI at 859/525-9988; fax 859/356-0908; pci-info@powdercoating.org; www.powdercoating.org.

May 8-11: Paint Technology. PRA Coatings Technology Centre, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, UK. Sponsored by PRA. Contact the PRA training team at training@pra-world.com ; www.pra-world.com/training.

May 10-12: Polymer Compounding, Formulating, and Testing of Plastics, Rubber, Adhesives, and Coatings. Akron Polymer Training Center, Akron, Ohio. Sponsored by the University of Akron. Contact the training center at 330/972-8303; fax 330/972-8141; aptc@uakron.edu; www.uakron.edu/aptc.

May 23-25: Color Theory and Applications. Akron Polymer Training Center, Akron, Ohio. Sponsored by the University of Akron. Contact the training center at 330/972-8303; fax 330/972-8141; aptc@uakron.edu; www.uakron.edu/aptc.

April 18, 2017

WILMINGTON, Dela.—Another roadblock has popped up for The Dow Chemical Company and DuPont as their proposed merger remains under review by European regulators. According to reports, the two companies have once again failed to provide crucial data to European antitrust regulators. This has forced the European Commission to suspend its review of the proposed $130 billion merger between the companies for the second time.

The two chemical industry giants announced in December 2015 that they plan to unite in a “merger of equals.” The plan has since been subject to regulatory hurdles worldwide due to the global nature of both corporations’ business.

The European Commission, an agency conducting an in-depth review to ensure the merger falls within European antitrust laws and other regulations, said it has once again paused its review because of missing documentation. The nature of the missing paperwork was not disclosed. A spokesperson for DuPont stated that the companies are remaining confident and focused on closing the deal in the first quarter of 2017, subject to approvals.

As previously reported, the companies plan to form a new entity, DowDuPont Inc., that would later split into three separate independent, publicly traded companies focused on material science, agriculture, and specialty products. The paints and coatings industry has focused on the side of the deal that will combine the two chemical and coatings titans. The EC’s concerns, however, lay on the agricultural side of the business, saying the proposed merger would create the world’s largest integrated crop protection and seeds company. EU officials were expected to decide on the deal in February (a decision had not been made at press time).

Meanwhile, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also voiced concerns about the planned merger, calling for submissions from interested parties. The ACCC is concerned about the effect that the proposed merger may have on competition for a diverse range of products, including insecticides, seeds, and materials science products. The concerns exist because the companies produce products that overlap in many categories. Specifically, the ACCC notes that the companies may be the only potential suppliers of ionomer and acid copolymer materials to plastics manufacturers in Australia. Thus, the merger would remove competition, which could potentially be a detriment to Australian customers. The ACCC was to make its final decision on the merger sometime in February (a decision had not been made at press time).

April 17, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Stakeholders on both sides of the controversial new overtime rule that would make overtime pay available to 4.2 million workers continue to hash out its future in the court system.

Originally set to take effect on December 1, a federal judge ruled to put a hold on the controversial rule on November 22. Business groups and officials from 21 states sued the Obama Administration in the US District Court of Eastern District of Texas, seeking to block and overturn the rule. They claimed the rule would place a heavy burden on their budgets and that the Labor Department overstepped its authority.

US District Judge Amos Mazzant III issued a preliminary injunction in the case following a hearing on the request held November 16. In its review, the court determined that the business associations and states demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the Labor Department exceeded its rulemaking authority, and further satisfied all requirements to issue a nationwide injunction.

In response, the Labor Department filed an appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Labor Department has long argued the rule stood on “sound legal and policy footing,” noting that the legal challenges were attempts to deprive workers of fair pay.

Construction is one of the major industries where the new rule will have the biggest impact. Yet, construction industry trade groups were not pleased with the sweeping changes, arguing that the measure would backfire and hurt workers.

Overtime protections require employers to pay one-and-a-half times an employee’s regular rate of pay for any work past 40 hours a week. The rule follows a March 13, 2014, Presidential Memorandum directing the Labor Department to update the overtime standards. Most significantly, the final rule, which altered the Fair Labor Standards Act, raised the salary threshold indicating overtime eligibility from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $913 per week ($47,476 per year).

The rule also updated the total annual compensation level above which most white collar workers will be ineligible for overtime, raising the level from the current $100,000 per year, to $134,004 per year. Under the new rule, the salary thresholds would have automatically updated every three years, based on wage growth over time, which would help to increase predictability, according to officials. Those updates were set to begin January 1, 2020.

April 14, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—More than 4,400 environmental educators will gain training and leadership opportunities in 2017 through a new cooperative agreement between the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). EPA is funding up to $10.8 million over 5 years through the agency’s teacher training program, formally known as the National Environmental Education Training Program (NEETP). The 5-year program, which is called ee360, began in 2017.

“Environmental educators help learners of all ages understand and value the ecosystems around them,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “The teacher training program gives educators access to the best classroom and out-of-classroom materials and professional development opportunities, focused on using the environment as a platform for learning science, technology, engineering, and math skills to improve decision-making.”

NAAEE is bringing together a broad collection of partners for this program: Antioch University, the Center for Diversity and the Environment, Earth Force, the NAAEE Affiliate Network, Project Learning Tree, Stanford University, the University of Oregon, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Bureau of Land Management, the US National Park Service, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the US Forest Service.

NAAEE and these partners will train professionals to deliver high-quality environmental education in formal and nonformal education settings. In the first year, ee360 aims to train more than 4,400 educators. The partners will also strengthen the field by building infrastructure through leadership clinics, developing state certification programs, using technology, expanding access to resources, and researching the value of environmental education.

Since 1992, EPA’s teacher training program has funded training, helped universities and states develop accredited certification programs, and promoted the national Environmental Education Guidelines for Excellence.

April 13, 2017

TAYLOR MILL, Ky.—The Powder Coating Institute (PCI), Taylor Mill, Ky., has announced its 2017 Board of Directors and Executive Officers. Serving as officers are Ron Cudzilo, George Koch Sons, president; Chris Merritt, Gema USA, vice president; Greg Dawson, Nordson Corp., secretary/treasurer; and John Sudges, Midwest Finishing Systems, past president.

In addition to the officers, serving as directors are John Cole, Parker Ionics; Kevin Coursin, Engineered Finishing Systems; Craig Dietz, Axalta Coating Systems; Steve Kiefer, Akzo Nobel Coatings Inc.; Mark Mortensen, All-Color Powder Coating Inc.; Suresh Patel, Chemetall US Inc.; Paul West, Sun Polymers International Inc.; and David Goch, Webster, Chamberlain & Bean. PCI is a nonprofit technical and professional association that provides information and education on powder coating technologies worldwide.

April 12, 2017

BROOK PARK, Ohio—Greenkote PLC has more than doubled capacity at its headquarters production facility in Ohio. Over the past year, the company saw a steady increase in orders for anticorrosion and metal protection coatings. The new state-of-the-art coating line will multiply current capacity by nearly two and a half times, enabling the Brook Park facility to process more than 150 tons of parts per month. It will also provide for the application of specialized topcoats and sealers to the company’s coatings to further enhance coating performance. Greenkote provides coating services for construction, automotive, rail, utilities, and a range of other industries where products are exposed to harsh and corrosive environments.

April 11, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Donald Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan has shown itself to be a popular idea, but perhaps not an easy one to translate into reality. While Republicans and Democrats can agree that infrastructure has been neglected in the US in recent years, the conflict begins when the discussion turns to how to fund improvements.

One early hurdle in putting together a major infrastructure plan is deciding what infrastructure refers to. While it no doubt means roads, bridges, tunnels, and transit, there are other issues that could fall under the umbrella as well. As the Chicago Tribune recently reported, elected officials and private companies have made cases for many investments that they consider to be critical infrastructure for the country. That could include projects as diverse as oil and gas pipelines, communication networks, public street lights, drinking water systems, public parks, and affordable housing. If the White House decides to use tax credits as a form of subsidy for private investment in infrastructure projects, it may first have to set guidelines defining exactly what counts and what does not.

The next question is where the money to fund the big plan will come from. Right now, there are few details, and some analysts say the claim that the plan will pay for itself is dubious. Funding could come in one (or a mix) of several forms. One idea is to use tax credits to encourage private investors to put their money into infrastructure upgrade projects. This is, essentially, a stimulus package, in which the expenditures would in theory be made back in the form of new jobs generated and tax revenue. Another idea is a one-time tax windfall from corporations with overseas assets. That tax could raise $150 billion over a 10-year period, according to analysts, which could put a dent in the infrastructure plan.

Yet another idea is an infrastructure bank, where state and local governments and public-private partnerships would bankroll infrastructure improvements. The money would eventually be paid back, though that’s one of the concerns experts have. Some say that an infrastructure bank that relies on complete repayment would lead states and private entities to make their infrastructure investments into money generators.

Despite a highly partisan political environment, Republicans and Democrats have routinely worked in a bipartisan manner to support infrastructure legislation. In fact, all sides should view a long-term infrastructure package as an opportunity for the two parties to come together and make meaningful progress for the American people.

April 10, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule updating its general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards. The rule also includes a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards that establishes employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems.

The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries. OSHA believes advances in technology and greater flexibility will reduce worker deaths and injuries from falls. The final rule also increases consistency between general and construction industries, which will help employers and workers that work in both industries.

OSHA estimates the final rule will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 injuries annually. The rule became effective on January 17 and will affect approximately 112 million workers at 7 million worksites.

The final rule’s most significant update is allowing employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection systems. OSHA has permitted the use of personal fall protection systems in construction since 1994, and the final rule adopts similar requirements for general industry. Other changes include allowing employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level, prohibiting the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system, and requiring worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions by setting and enforcing standard, and providing training, education, and assistance.