ENFORCEMENT OF HAZARDOUS WASTE DISPOSAL REGULATIONS: Reportedly, local inspectors (Environmental Compliance Officers) have gone into dumpsters at auto service facilities to determine the occurrence of illegal waste disposal. They have cited heavy fines for violations when hazardous waste and universal waste are found in the dumpster. Alameda and Santa Clara counties sued an auto dealership chain and recently obtained a settlement of $3.38 million. See link.
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released a list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year of 2017; compiled from thousands of inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff. One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. Year after year, thousands of the same on-the-job hazards are cited, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.
HFO-1234yf REFRIGERANT IS A FLAMMABLE GAS
Automobiles have been using refrigerant gases in their AC systems for decades. The refrigerant gases have generally been inert gases, such as Freon-12 and R-134. Recently, many auto manufacturers have started to use HFO-1234yf as the refrigerant gas in their AC systems. This gas is expensive, about $80/lb., and the recycling machine costs another $5000. The bigger issue is that it is a flammable gas. Flammable gases pose special hazards and dealers should take steps to address this concern.
BACKGROUND: Used oil filters may exhibit hazardous characteristics and are hence, classified as hazardous waste in California. To encourage recycling of used oil filters, California DTSC adopted reduced handling requirements for drained used oil filters that are sent for recycling as scrap metal. We wrote about that in July 2016 stating that you should drain the filter properly. Now the DTSC (Cal/EPA) has started to classify all used oil filters, with a flapper valve that prevents oil from being drained out, as hazardous waste.
Background: Cal/OSHA heat illness prevention regulation (T8CCR3395) became effective on May 1, 2015. This standard applies to outdoor areas of employment. When porters are parking cars and salespersons are showing automobiles on display to customers or taking them on test drives, they are considered to be working outdoors. Fed-OSHA also requires that employees be trained in heat illness prevention under a general injury prevention standard. Cal/OSHA enforcement details are at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/heatillnessqa.html.
Accident 1: On the afternoon of February 22, 2016, a test drive of a Corvette from a dealership in Ontario, CA became a tragedy. Reportedly, the driver was driving at 70 MPH before the crash took place, which resulted in the salesperson losing his life. LA Times reported that the customer was treated for injuries at a local hospital and arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of drugs.
Solution 1: While it may be difficult to recognize a customer being under the influence of drugs, salespersons should remain attentive to inebriated customers and decline any test drive in which drugs or alcohol may become a factor. Also, the dealership must constantly reiterate: “All test drives must be safe and within posted speed limits.”
Background: As summer approaches, and the mercury rises, the probability of an employee illness due to heat stroke/stress rises as well. We write this memo to make you aware of these issues so you can minimize or rather eliminate loss time and other losses due to heat illnesses.
Investigate Accidents: Save Money & Fight Fraud
A prompt, accurate and thoughtful accident investigation can, simply stated, save money and fight fraud. First, it is state law that mandates that an employer investigate each accident and take corrective measures to prevent repetition of accidents. Secondly, a written investigation report can be reviewed by senior management or the safety committee to undertake steps that would prevent such accidents in the future. Last and not the least, such reports can be useful ammo in fighting the 3F–Fictitious, Fraudulent or Frivolous claims. In summary, as an employer, it is your duty to provide a safe workplace and also to ensure that any worker’s compensation claim is legitimate and preventable in the future.
You cannot dump your fluorescent lamps into the dumpster any more! The US EPA has made changes to waste rules applying to spent mercury-containing light bulbs that requires recycling of these lamps and prohibit landfill disposal.
The rule has been adopted to reduce the disposal of mercury containing wastes into landfills. Mercury is a toxic pollutant that accumulates in our body, especially for children who are at a high risk as they absorb more mercury as a percentage of their body weight. Examples of wastes that are being regulated under this new rule are fluorescent, high-intensity discharge, neon, mercury vapor, high pressure sodium, metal halide, thermostat (with metallic mercury in an ampoule), batteries (non-automotive), and lamp ballasts.
California hazardous waste disposal documentation laws have been simplified. Now disposal of waste antifreeze, oil/water separator sludge (500 gallon per 30-day period) and parts cleaning solvent (both petroleum-based and water-based) do not require the completion of a manifest. The manifest is a six-page, multi-colored State of California document that needed to be completed for disposal of any hazardous waste unless exempted.