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EPA, OSHA to coordinate on chemical reviews

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Washington — Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and OSHA on Jan. 8 signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formally coordinate efforts amid EPA’s ongoing review of new chemicals under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amended the Toxic Substances Control Act.

According to an EPA press release, the agencies have previously collaborated on workplace exposures to EPA’s review of new chemicals, as required under the TSCA.

EPA states the MOU will advance that partnership and “help achieve the agencies’ shared goal of ensuring workers are protected from potential health and environmental risks” through measures including:

  • Establishing designated staff and management points of contact from EPA and OSHA to discuss and resolve workplace exposure issues related to EPA’s review of new chemicals.
  • Providing to OSHA regular updates on EPA’s new chemical determinations, including any necessary worker protections.
  • Documenting EPA’s role in identifying and informing OSHA of requisite formal consultation concerning EPA’s review of new chemicals.

“Ensuring the safety of workers is one of our top priorities as we review the health and environmental risks associated with new chemicals before they can enter the market,” Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator of the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution, said in the release. “We are pleased to partner with OSHA to further advance our commitment to implementing TSCA in a way that is transparent, protects public health and helps our economy to grow.”

 

Then-acting OSHA administrator Loren Sweatt, who stepped down just before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, agreed, saying in the release that the collaborative approach “will further our shared goals of worker protection and chemical hazard awareness for workers and employers.”

Effective for three years, the MOU contains nothing “intended to diminish or otherwise affect the authority of either agency to implement its respective statutory and/or regulatory functions,” the document states. Additionally, the MOU is not a regulation or contract, and “neither directs or applies to any person outside OSHA or EPA, nor provides or creates defenses for any third party to use in any litigation or arbitration.”

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