NASF Raises Concerns over EPA Stormwater Discharge Rule

NASF has raised concerns over the proposed revisions, particularly related to the benchmark values that EPA and state agencies will be using for compliance.
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed a package of revisions to the federal multi-sector general permit for stormwater discharges. Stormwater discharges from surface finishing operations are covered as part of the metal fabrication sector.

NASF has raised concerns over the proposed revisions, particularly related to the benchmark values that EPA and state agencies will be using for compliance. The new benchmarks are so low that they suggest current BMPs are not protective. Furthermore, because the benchmarks are unrealistically low, they will trigger unnecessary compliance expenses, testing requirements and additional controls. EPA has estimated annual compliance costs of approximately $2,000, but these costs could be more than twice as high.

Stormwater discharge requirements are getting increased attention from both federal and state officials. In fact, the state of Missouri recently proposed to combine the stormwater general permit for metal fabrication with auto salvage yards and scrap recycling operations. This change would have imposed additional testing and compliance requirements on surface finishing operations. As a result of NASF’s comments and the coordinated comments of other industry groups who objected to this change, Missouri officials withdrew the proposal.

NASF will continue to monitor new revisions to stormwater rules that affect the industry. The deadline for comments n the proposed revisions to the federal multi-sector permit for stormwater discharges was Dec. 26. If you have questions or would like additional information regarding the stormwater permit, contact Jeff Hannapel at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.



OSHA Implementing Global System for Chemical Classification and Labeling

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is moving forward in its effort to standardize, harmonize and update the classification and labeling of chemicals. Implementation of the so-called Globally Harmonized System (GHS) in the U.S. is being done through changes to OSHA’s widely recognized Hazard Communication Standard. The agency released and published the rule in the Federal Register on March 26, 2012.

For each class and category of hazard, there is a new harmonized system of signal words, pictograms, hazard statements and precautionary statements. Once a chemical is classified, the GHS provides the specific core information that generally reflects the degree of severity of the hazard, and that information must be conveyed to chemical and material users.

NASF has provided periodic updates to NASF members on what the framework requires. A brief refresher on the new system follows:

What does the GHS mean for my company?

GHS means that finishing companies will need to replace all old Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) with new Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and ensure that labels meet the emerging GHS requirements.

What about the deadline that just passed for the new training requirements?

Because employees across the country will be seeing new SDSs and labels, companies were required to train them by Dec. 1, 2013, about hazards of chemicals or categories of chemicals, as well as the new label elements and SDS format. Employers who did not conduct training by the deadline are advised to do so as soon as possible to avoid future penalties.

What additional compliance deadlines are ahead for the new labeling and format requirements?

Chemical manufacturers, distributors or importers have until June 1, 2015, to update all chemical labels and SDSs. Distributors have an additional six months to distribute containers with manufacturers’ labels.

When is full compliance required of companies for all major aspects of the GHS?

By June 1, 2016, employers must update their Hazard Communication program and posted signs, and be in full compliance with the GHS requirements.

The NASF Government & Industry Affairs group and the NASF Suppliers Committee will be working to provide additional guidance on these requirements, specifically for the surface finishing industry. More comprehensive updates on implementation of GHG and the hazard communication standard are planned for NASF SUR/FIN 2014 in Cleveland this June, and current information is available on the OSHA website at osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html. If you have questions or would like additional information regarding the GHS requirements and how NASF is addressing them, please contact Jeff Hannapel at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.



OSHA Ramps Up: New Recordkeeping Requirements on the Way

OSHA recently proposed a new regulation that would require employers subject to recordkeeping requirements to submit records directly to OSHA. The agency plans to publish those records in an online, searchable database.


OSHA chief David Michaels has said that the new rule is not intended to be an enforcement initiative but will help steer inspection priorities. The information will also be used to:


•  help point to employers that need OSHA consultation visits

•  allow companies to compare their injury and illness rates with each other

•  help people decide where they want to work and

•  let employees judge whether their workplaces' accidents were reported to OSHA.


However, industry concern is growing from some quarters about the potential misuses of the data for “naming and shaming” companies that have had accidents or criticizing companies with non-union workplaces.


The regulation will affect many employers across many industries and sizes. In the proposed regulation, OSHA is considering focusing on both companies with 250 or more employees, and employers with 20 or more employees in certain industries deemed “high hazard” according to certain criteria. The finishing industry is include in the sectors considered for the new requirements. OSHA is withdrawing a separate data colloection effort that would focus on employers with 11 to 19 workers.


A public meeting on the proposed rule is scheduled for Jan. 9 in Washington, D.C., and OSHA will take comments on the proposal until Feb. 6. NASF is discussing the rule with the agency and participating in a larger, nationwide industry effort to provide input on the measure.



OSHA Leading EPA, Homeland Security on New Chemical Safety Reform Initiative


OSHA is leading a new federal working group initiative to update and modernize the nation’s chemical safety policies, regulations and standards. The so-called “modernization” effort may include updating several existing requirements that impact a range of facilities in the finishing industry.


Potential actions could include revising the process safety management (PSM) standard and expanding the range of chemicals covered by the EPA and the Department of Homeland Security chemical management programs.


Industry groups and activist organizations recently discussed the issues with federal officials in response to President Obama’s Aug. 1 Executive Order addressing prevention of chemical disasters. Additional sessions for industry are planned through January, and NASF will be participating to provide input into future federal decisions that could generate expansive new mandates for finishers, and chemical suppliers and distributors.



NASF Education & Training through the Foundation 


2014 Course Calendar


Many of the NASF Foundation’s most popular courses will be offered again in 2014, in both classroom and web-based format. The 2014 course calendar is now available and posted on the education section of the website at nasf.org, where your may download it or register for a course.


The first offering is the newest Foundation course, “Just the Basics on Electroplating.” This introductory course will benefit individuals without experience or training in the art and science involved in electroplating, including new hires for plating line work, supervisors needing more knowledge and experience, sales personnel serving metal finishers, and those in management who want a low-technical primer on the topic.


This training course also can serve as an introduction for individuals who intend to go on to more advanced training courses offered by the Foundation. The goal is to provide more comfort with electroplating terminology, knowledge of coatings differences and equipment.


Just the Basics on Electroplating Web-based Course

Six 2-hour Sessions:  February 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19

Member Cost:  $500

Non-Member Cost:  $700


At the conclusion of this course the trainee will:


  • Knowledge – Have knowledge of the various finishes commonly applied by the electroplating process and the basic differences in performance between various coatings.
  • Basics – Have a basic level of understanding of math, electricity, chemistry and electrochemistry as it relates to the electroplating process.
  • Process Familiarity – Be able to identify and describe the basic components that make up an electroplating process.
  • Solutions – Know the various types of parts and problems that they may pose when processed by electroplating.

Lessons covered in this course include:

  1. Introduction to Surface Finishing
  2. Solving Math Problems Related to Electroplating
  3. Chemistry Basics for Plating
  4. Basic Electricity and Electrochemistry for Electroplating
  5. Types of Metals Plated
  6. Plating and Anodizing Equipment

You may download a detailed description of the course content from the NASF website at nasf.org.


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