EHS Law Insights

Comment and analysis by Reed Smith lawyers on the latest developments in Environmental Health & Safety

In an unprecedented move, today (March 26, 2020) EPA issued a memorandum to its governmental and private sector partners about its new temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The memo states the EPA will exercise its enforcement discretion for noncompliance covered by temporary policy and resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic if regulated entities take the steps applicable to their situations, as set forth in the temporary policy. For…
Following a recent settlement between the California Attorney General’s Office and a number of alcoholic beverage retailers, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is proposing to clarify the Proposition 65 warning requirements for alcoholic beverages sold on the internet, in catalogs, and via third-party providers. The most prominent item in the settlement’s methods and in OEHHA’s proposed amendments are that alcoholic beverages sold online or through a catalog must have a warning on…
A recent decision by a California court of appeal clarified the breadth of the California Water Resources Control Board’s (Board) subpoena power, which could have implications for other state agencies in California and elsewhere.  Moreover, private entities which are the subject of an administrative investigation may have a difficult time withholding financial records even if those records are not related to the alleged violations, and even if the subpoenaed entity is not directly responsible for…
Five years after its first iteration, yesterday (11 March 2020), the European Commission launched its new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) as part of the overall European Green Deal. The CEAP contains many proposals.  We will explore others (including those relating to batteries, packaging, plastics, textiles, ‘safe-by-design’ chemicals, non-financial reporting and shipment of waste) in separate posts. For now, here is a brief outline of some of the more eye-catching proposals from a ‘sustainable products’…
Earlier this month, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published information on novel coronavirus (COVID-19) hazard recognition, medical information, potentially applicable OSHA standards, control and prevention, and additional resources. The guidance notes that without sustained human-to-human transmission, most U.S. workers remain at low risk of exposure and infection. However, OSHA has identified commonsense practices for all workers and employers to help prevent worker exposure to COVID-19, including proper handwashing with the use of…
The European Commission is seeking feedback on a proposed initiative to revise the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) (EU Directive 2014/95/EU), with submissions due by 27 February 2020. The NFRD requires certain large companies to annually disclose a range of non-financial information, including in relation to the environment, social and employee matters, human rights, and anti-corruption and bribery matters. The demand for (and expectation of) companies to disclose substantial and accurate non-financial information is growing…
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I or Department) recently released two documents related to its development of a refinery-specific process safety management (PSM) rule. First, L&I released a revised draft of its proposed refinery-specific PSM rule language; the Department, however, will not be accepting comments on this language until formal rulemaking begins in May 2020. Second, the Department issued an economic survey for refineries, which L&I will use to develop an economic…
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB or Agency) recently published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its accidental reporting rule in the Federal Register (Proposed Rule). The CSB was established by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which directed the Agency, among other things, to investigate and report on any accidental release “resulting in a fatality, serious injury or substantial property damage.” The statute also required the CSB to issue a rule governing the…
On November 7, 2019, OSHA held a public stakeholder meeting on safety key performance indicators (KPIs).  During this meeting, the agency sought input from employers and industry groups on leading and lagging safety KPIs.  Specifically, OSHA aimed to gather information about: (1) how companies regularly implement leading indicators; (2) how the information is used to strengthen work protection best practices; (3) the possibility of creating a digital library of leading indicators accessible on the OSHA…