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July 13, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Several new products have been introduced recently. The latest technologies available on the market are designed to make surface preparation easier, more effective, or even hands-free.

Clemco Industries, Washington, Mo., has introduced the Alpha 1 autonomous blasting robot by Sabre. The robotic system is built to provide blasting services in complex environments, removing human operators from workspaces that may be difficult or dangerous to access.

Spartan Blasting Systems, Durham, Calif., has introduced the Universal Blasting Station. This system is designed to be compatible with multiple brands and pot sizes, and is intended to save blasters time and money by eliminating the need to repeatedly refill the pot.

The Fonon Corp., Orlando, Fla., now offers CleanTech by Laser Photonics, a line of laser systems for cleaning and surface preparation. These systems offer a nonabrasive solution for paint, epoxy, rust, corrosion, and anodizing removal.

Blastrac NA, Oklahoma City, Okla., recently introduced the 18DM Shot Blaster, a new portable, lightweight shotblasting system that can prepare, strip, clean, and profile in one step.

Barton, Glen Falls, N.Y., has introduced the MG1 line, a medium fine garnet abrasive. The material is designed for new construction applications where thin coatings, mill scale, and light rust are to be removed without using a deep anchor pattern.

Jetstream, Houston, Tex., is now offering the FX Tornado spinner gun, a new gun for high-pressure and ultrahigh-pressure waterblasting. The gun allows the nozzle to spin while maintaining maximum force.

July 12, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The US Department of Labor’s OSHA has announced a proposed delay in the effective date of the rule entitled Occupational Exposure to Beryllium, from March 21, 2017, to May 20, 2017.

The announcement follows a White House memorandum, entitled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review,” issued Jan. 20, 2017, that directed the department to undertake a review of any new or pending regulations and temporarily postpone the date that they would take effect. The proposed delay will allow OSHA an opportunity for further review and consideration of the rule, in keeping with the White House memorandum.

OSHA published the final rule on Jan. 9, 2017, and, in response to the memorandum, previously announced the effective date would be postponed to March 21, 2017. In its review process, OSHA has preliminarily determined that it is appropriate to further delay the effective date to May 20, 2017, for the purpose of additional review into questions of law and policy. The proposed extension of the effective date will not affect the compliance dates of the beryllium rule. The proposal has been scheduled for publication in the Federal Register.

The new rule would limit workplace exposure to beryllium, a metal that is present in some blasting abrasives and has been linked to lung disease. 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.

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.

July 11, 2017

BRUSSELS, Belgium—After months of review, the European Union has approved the pending merger between Dow Chemical and DuPont, setting the two companies one step closer to combining. In order to make the $130 million merger happen, Dow and DuPont have agreed to sell key assets such as research and development activities.

The EU had been worried that the merger of the world’s two biggest chemical producers would impede on incentives for herbicide and pesticide innovations. Regulators had suspended the review twice seeking more information from both companies. However, the end result landed with divestments smaller than what analysts originally anticipated. DuPont will divest large portions of its pesticides business, including research and development organizations. This unit develops herbicides and pesticides. Dow will sell two acid copolymer manufacturing facilities in Spain and in the US, and a third-party contract through which it buys ionomers.

The European Union stated that its decision ensures that the merger between Dow and DuPont does not reduce price competition for existing pesticides or innovation for safer and better products in the future.

While the deal still needs to be approved by Brazil, China, Australia, Canada, and the US, Dow and DuPont released a joint statement citing the significance of the EU win. According to the statement, this regulatory milestone is a significant step toward closing the merger transaction, with the intention to subsequently spin into three independent publicly traded companies focused on material science, agriculture, and specialty products.

While the US typically follows suit with the EU, there are higher shares in corn and soybean seeds in the US that might cause concern.

July 10, 2017

DUBLIN, Ohio—Chemical manufacturer Ashland Inc. has established a new North American center for the study of corrosion vis a vis fiber reinforced polymers. The Ashland Corrosion Science Center, headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, will be focused on defining the efficacy of fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP) in new corrosion applications, and supporting customers already using FRP technology in fields like chemical processing, oil and gas, and mineral processing.

July 6, 2017

WESTPORT, Conn.—According to a recent Chem Show survey sent to more than 10,000 chemical and other processing manufacturers, equipment suppliers, and design/engineering firms, 2017 is expected to foster significantly elevated business prospects and sales throughout the chemical process industries. Based on survey results, 82 percent of respondents expect their sales to increase this year, with 69 percent additionally rating the year’s business climate as either good or excellent.

The five-question survey, distributed at the close of 2016, addressed a variety of parameters by which respondents were asked to measure overall business outlook for 2017. When asked to rate the overall industry business climate for 2017, 98 percent of respondents indicated a positive outlook. Ninety-seven percent of those surveyed also responded positively regarding their own company’s prospects for business this year, with 76 percent rating them as either excellent or good. Additionally, 82 percent indicated they expect their company’s sales to increase when comparing 2016 to 2017.

The Chem Show is the CPI’s largest North American event exclusively focused on the processing of fluids, powders, and gases. Held every odd-numbered calendar year, the Chem Show will return to New York City this October, opening its doors to thousands of engineers, plant managers, and other CPI professionals looking for new ways to optimize their process operations. More than 5,000 attendees are expected this year.

July 5, 2017

Sept. 12-13: Powder Coating 202 Workshop. Elgin, Ill. Sponsored by the Powder Coating Institute (PCI). Contact PCI at 859/525-9988; fax 859/356-0908; pci-info@powdercoating.org; www.powdercoating.org.

Sept. 26-28: 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.

July 3, 2017

ESSEN, Germany—Coatings manufacturer Evonik has introduced a new line of polyether ether ketone (PEEK) powders designed to reduce wear and tear on the industrial equipment that they protect. The Vestakeep line of powders can be applied via flame or electrostatic spraying or as aqueous dispersions. The line is designed specifically for tribological performance, reducing friction between sliding surfaces.

June 29, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The US Department of Labor is delaying its enforcement of a new rule on respirable crystalline silica in the construction industry, originally set to be enforced in June. The DOL’s OSHA announced in April that it would push back enforcement of the new crystalline silica standard from June 23 to September 23. The agency said the extra time is needed to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers.

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 had until June 23, 2017, to comply with most requirements, while employers covered by the general industry and maritime standard have until June 23, 2018. The general industry deadline has not changed.

The silica rule is subject to ongoing litigation in the N. Amer. Bldg. Trades Unions v. OSHA case, a suit in which both business and labor interests are challenging aspects of the rule and its implementation. 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.

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.

June 28, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Administrator Scott Pruitt has taken the helm of the US Environmental Protection Agency, indicating in his first address to employees and the nation that he would follow President Donald J. Trump’s lead in stepping back from regulations set forth by the Obama administration. As an Attorney General, Pruitt often went rounds with the EPA and joined more than a dozen lawsuits challenging EPA actions by the former administration. He historically hasn’t shied away from an alliance with fossil fuel firms and maintained that he had stood up for the concerns of Oklahoma’s largest industries.

June 27, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Donald J. Trump has signed an executive order that establishes task forces within executive departments to identify regulations that might be ripe for repeal or modification under the new administration, and gives them 90 days to report back with recommendations.

The Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Agenda calls on executive agencies to designate one official as its Regulatory Reform Officer (RRO). The RRO will work with other agency officials on finding regulations currently on the books that the administration might want to eliminate in order to comply with an earlier executive order that requires the elimination of two regulations for every new regulation put into place.

The order calls on the RROs and their task forces to concentrate on rooting out regulations that might be eliminating jobs or inhibiting job creation, becoming outdated or unnecessary, imposing costs that exceed their benefits, and creating serious inconsistencies, among other factors. The order, as issued, affects all federal departments, but allows for a waiver for agencies that can prove they rarely issue regulations.

A number of new regulations that could affect the paints and coatings industry were put into place during the final year of the Obama administration. For example, OSHA approved new rules regarding electronic reporting, which also includes provisions related to workplace safety incentives. OSHA also put into place new rules on workplace exposure to respirable crystalline silica and beryllium, both of which could affect abrasive blasting operations. The EPA has begun enforcing changes to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act as it governs generators of hazardous waste. The new regulations, which went into effect in April, could affect both coating manufacturers and field coating removal operations.

June 26, 2017

PITTSBURGH, Pa.—SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings has revealed that SSPC 2017, held in late January in Tampa., Fla., posted positive numbers in terms of registrations and exhibit booths. The organization states that the conference boasted more registrations, more exhibiting companies (including more first-time exhibitors), more overall booths, and more full conference participants than the previous year’s show. In fact, there was a nearly 20 percent increase in the number of people who chose to participate in the technical program. The next show, SSPC 2018, will be held January 15-18 in New Orleans, La.

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.