The final year of the Obama Administration is bringing a flurry of environmental and workplace regulations. In 2015 alone, federal agencies issued 3,408 final rules, costing manufacturers billions of dollars. Below are a few of the regulatory issues on which NADCA is focusing its attention:
Department of Labor Persuader Rule – March 2016
After five years of delay, the Department of Labor finalized its “Persuader Rule” in March 2016. The new regulation requires that employers and their advisors file certain reports with the Department if they use outside labor consultants to interact with their employees during a union organizing activity or collective bargaining dispute. The Administration first proposed the rule in 2011 and was immediately met with fierce opposing from industry leading to multiple delays. The rule is a top priority for unions, especially as their numbers dwindle and the stakes increase during organizing activity with the implementation of the Ambush Election rule on April 14, 2015.
Labor Department Overtime Eligibility Expansion – May 2016
The Labor Department issued the final rule to expand the number of workers eligible for overtime by roughly 5 million, mostly “white collar,” workers. The rule raises the overtime exemption wage to $47,473 per year or $913 per week for Executive, Administrative, Professional & Clerical Employees (EAP). This one-size fits all approach applies to all states without factoring in regional pay differences. It also indexes the overtime exemption at a rate with roughly 10 percent increase every three years in addition to raising the exemption threshold for highly compensated workers from $100,000 to $34,004.
OSHA Electronic Recordkeeping – May 2016
OSHA released a rule long opposed by NADCA to post online incident/injury reports. The rule requires businesses with 20 or more employees to submit electronically Form 300A that OSHA will put on its website for the general public. Larger manufacturing businesses with more than 250 employees must submit quarterly Forms 300, 300A, and 301, which OSHA will also post online. OSHA is also targeting safety incentive programs that many companies use to improve employee morale and reward workers for maintaining a safe work environment. Recently, OSHA began taking the position that some programs could lead to workers underreporting injuries, despite a proven track record of improving workplace safety. In public comments, NADCA argued that the proposed rule does not improve workplace safety and will only create a misperception of manufacturing as a dangerous occupation.
National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQs) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – August 2016
NADCA has taken a leading role note only in Washington but in key states opposing the Administration’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQs) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5). In August, the EPA will release guidelines for the states addressing a range of requirements including the timing of plan submissions, attainment deadlines for areas designated nonattainment, and new standards for reasonably available control technology, reasonably available control measures, best available control measures, and new source review.
Slips, Trips and Fall Prevention – August 2016
OSHA is reviving an action delayed in 2003 and 2011 to update the 1990 rule addressing slip, trip, and fall hazards and establishing requirements for personal fall protection systems in keeping with current technology and procedures. This could lead to a significant changes of existing policies in place at thousands of manufacturing facilities across the country. We expect a final rule in August 2016.
Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicle, Engine Emissions and Efficiency Regs – August 2016
In 2015, NADCA filed official comments on the EPA’s release of its draft Phase II of the Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicle and Engine Emissions and Efficiency initiative. The Agency outlined four categories for improved efficiency ranging from 4-24% affecting Model Years 2019-2027: Heavy-Duty Pickups/Vans; Vocational; Tractors; Trailers. The EPA will finalize the rules in August 2016 with most provisions affecting the 2018 production line. This builds off the Phase I standards, which lowered emissions and increased efficiency.
Ground Level Ozone Emissions – September 2016
The Obama Administration released the long awaited Ground Level Ozone rule ahead of a court mandated October 1, 2015 deadline. Experts describe it as the most expensive in U.S. history and will cost the U.S. economy $1.7 trillion by 2040 while increasing compliance costs by $1.1 trillion. The White House twice ordered the EPA to delay the proposal – ahead of the 2012 Presidential and 2014 Congressional midterm elections. The proposal will reduce ground level ozone levels from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70ppb, classifying areas non-attainment zones, potentially limiting manufacturing production, expansion of facilities, hiring new employees, and infrastructure projects.
Greenhouse Gas Rule – September 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court in February 2016 blocked the EPA from moving forward with its regulation aiming to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions from existing power plants by up to 32% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, starting in 2022. NADCA, along with more than 2.65 million stakeholders, filed comments on the proposal, which, by the EPA’s own admission increases the cost of electricity by 6-12% annually, while industry studies show the power plant rule could raise prices by 20% annually. On September 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals will hold a hearing on the controversial rule but most expect a full Supreme Court to decide the case in 2017.
OSHA Combustible Dust Standard –October 2016
OSHA pushed back its proposed Combustible Dust Standards, delaying the rule yet again. The Department of Labor announced OSHA will now convene a small business review panel for combustible dust in October 2016 instead of the previously scheduled August 2016 timeline. Since 2011, OSHA has repeatedly delayed convening the panel, a requirement before the rule may proceed. Absent further delay, the Administration will likely issue a final combustible dust rule by the end of 2016.
Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) – October 2016
In 2014, under pressure from businesses, OSHA quietly announced it was delaying a proposed rule requiring employers to implement an I2P2. This proposed rule will include new standards of what constitutes an effective workplace safety program. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is working on global guidelines it may finalize in October 2016 (ISO 45001: 2016); most expect OSHA to follow suit. NADCA is taking a leading role influencing OSHA to adopt many of the best and proven practices already implemented by die casting companies.
More NADCA Resources on Regulations