FMCSA Extends Emergency Declaration to May 31.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended its Emergency Declaration related to the COVID-19 national emergency through May 31, 2021.

Under the Emergency Declaration, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 public health emergency are granted emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of the FMCSRs, except as otherwise restricted.

The extension of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 and is limited to transportation of:

(1) livestock and livestock feed;

(2) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;

(3) vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19;

(4) supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants; and

(5) food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores. Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.

Direct assistance means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) incident to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies related to COVID-19 during the emergency.

OSHA Releases New Hazard Communication Standard Proposal.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released its new proposed rule to conform its Hazard Communication Standard to the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals Revision 7 (GHS, Rev. 7), to address issues that arose during the implementation of the 2012 update to the HCS, and provide better alignment with other U.S. agencies and international trading partners.

The 486-page proposed rule will be published in the February 16, 2021 Federal Register.

Although the notice seeks public comments, OSHA has preliminarily determined that the proposed revisions will enhance the effectiveness of the HCS by ensuring employees are appropriately apprised of the chemical hazards to which they may be exposed, thus reducing the incidence of chemical-related occupational illnesses and injuries. The proposed modifications to the standard include revised criteria for classification of certain health and physical hazards, revised provisions for updating labels, new labeling provisions for small containers, technical amendments related to the contents of safety data sheets (SDSs), and related revisions to definitions of terms used in the standard.

The proposed changes include clarifying the purpose and scope of the standard, adding definitions, codifying enforcement policies currently in OSHA’s compliance directive, clarifying requirements related to the transport of hazardous chemicals, adding labeling provisions for small containers, and adopting new requirements related to preparation of SDSs and new provisions related to claiming concentration ranges as trade secrets.

PHMSA Reorganizes Agency Structure, Functions.  The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has completed an agency reorganization.  For the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, the changes are as follows:

1) Relocates the Cylinder and Energetic Materials Approvals Branches from the Approvals and Permits Division to the Sciences and Engineering Division;

2) Relocates the Special Permits and General Approvals Branch from the Approvals and Permits Division to the Standards Division;

3) Eliminates the Approvals and Permits Division;

4) Establishes a Research Branch under the Operations Systems Division;

5) Combines Field Support Functions and Program Management a single branch within the Operations Systems Division;

6) Relocates Registration Functions to the Operations System Division;

7) Relocates Administrative functions under the Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy and Programs; and

8) Establishes a new Program Analysis and Management function under the Deputy Associate Administrator for Field Operations.

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