May saw a flurry of activity on the regulatory front in the US, with updates and proposed changes impacting various aspects of safety. Here’s a breakdown of five key topics:

1. Workplace Safety: Focus on Heat Illness Prevention

With summer approaching, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a reminder to employers about the importance of heat illness prevention in workplaces. New guidance emphasizes the creation of heat illness prevention plans, ensuring access to cool water and shaded areas, and implementing acclimatization programs for new or returning workers exposed to hot environments. OSHA also announced increased enforcement efforts in high-risk industries like construction and agriculture.

2. Environmental Safety: New Rules for PFAS Chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new regulations aimed at curbing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.” These man-made compounds are linked to various health concerns and are notoriously persistent in the environment. The proposed rule would limit discharges of certain PFAS from industrial facilities and require mandatory reporting of their use. This move reflects a growing concern about PFAS contamination in drinking water and the environment.

3. Consumer Product Safety: Update on Toy Safety Standards

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced an update to its toy safety standards, focusing on addressing potential choking hazards in small parts. The new rule strengthens testing requirements for toys intended for children under three years old and clarifies labeling requirements for age recommendations. This update aims to minimize the risk of accidental ingestion by young children.

4. Food Safety: Modernization of Food Safety Regulations

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled a proposed framework for modernizing food safety regulations. This sweeping proposal focuses on preventive controls throughout the food supply chain, from farm to table. It emphasizes traceability, risk-based inspections, and enhanced foodborne illness outbreak response. This initiative reflects the FDA’s commitment to a more proactive approach to ensuring food safety.

5. HR and Employee Safety: Clarification on Remote Work and Harassment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance clarifying the application of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws in remote work environments. This comes as remote work arrangements become increasingly prevalent. The guidance clarifies that employers are still responsible for preventing and addressing harassment, even when employees are working virtually. Additionally, the EEOC emphasized the importance of clear communication and establishing complaint procedures for remote workers.

Staying informed about these regulatory updates is crucial for businesses and individuals alike to ensure a safe and healthy environment. By keeping up with these changes, we can all work towards preventing accidents, protecting the environment, and ensuring the well-being of workers, consumers, and the community at large.