‘OSHA is AWOL’: Critics Say Federal Agency is Where Workplace Covid-19 Complaints Go to Die

Tampa Bay Times

by Meghan Bowbrowsky
Miami, FL – The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration, charged with enforcing health and safety in the American workplace, has received more than 6,000 complaints nationwide about unsafe work conditions related to COVID-19. And yet, on June 9, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia told lawmakers that OSHA, which his department oversees, had issued just one citation. The complaints go to OSHA, which dutifully maintains a list of the alleged infractions. But it’s unclear how much action is being taken.

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EPA Provides Consumers Consumers Additional Options for Covid-19 Disinfections

National – EPA added 32 new surface disinfectants to List N, the agency’s list of over 460 products expected to kill SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. These products have already been approved as tuberculocidal. While they have not yet been tested against SARS-CoV-2, they are approved for killing the pathogen that causes tuberculosis and are expected to kill SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used according to the label. 

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Diamond Offshore Warned Over Spread of Asebstos Debris in North Sea

Energy Voice

by Allistar Thomas
North Sea – The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said Diamond Offshore failed to protect workers on the Ocean Valiant rig from exposure to asbestos fibres. The incident, in September last year, took place on the Ocean Valiant while repairs were being made on a diesel engine which generates power on board. However, insulation against asbestos had been damaged in the unit, leading to the debris being “dispersed to the surrounding walkway and engine block thereby creating the risk of potential exposure of the crew to asbestos fibres”. 

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EPA’s New Asbestos Determination May Upend Decades of Science and Effect Litigation

National Law Review

by Clifford Pascarella, II
National – The EPA’s Draft Risk Evaluation for Asbestos (“DRE”) generated significant attention from industrial groups, experts, and various other parties involved in asbestos litigation. All sides have significant issues with the DRE as currently drafted. EPA was left with more than 75 comments to consider. Many of these comments include critiques from researchers and trade groups that assert that the proposed evaluation overestimates the risk posed by chrysotile and other asbestos-containing products, and flies in the face of decades of industry, scientific, and regulatory debate and consideration. EPA noted on a June 26, 2020 webinar regarding its ongoing TSCA evaluation that it is firmly committed to publishing a final rule for asbestos exposure by the end of 2020, despite the significant comments it has received. This suggests that the EPA may be prepared to push through its determination in its current form, which will significantly impact the asbestos litigation for years to come. 

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Standard View: A Precious Opportunity to Ban Asbestos Now

Montana Standard

Montana – Today it remains legal to import, manufacture and sell products containing asbestos in the United States – despite the fact that more than 60 countries worldwide have banned the deadly fiber. In November of 2019, the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act seemed to have real momentum. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, on a bipartisan 47-1 vote, recommended it be sent to the full House. But ironically, a lobbyist generally in favor of asbestos-ban legislation — the trial-lawyer organization American Association for Justice, representing plaintiffs’ attorneys — is using its enormous power particularly among Democratic lawmakers to hold up the bill, saying it cannot support the bill as written. AAJ is seeking arcane language changes that it believes will provide a more favorable litigation environment for its members. 

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