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On the Hill/Around the Nation
International News
NEMAVoice
Monday, June 11, 2012
feature story
Good for Worker Safety…What’s OSHA’s Excuse?
by Sarah Owen, Manager, NEMA Government Relations

Safety First SignIn his comments on the recent publication of the final rule modernizing the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), Dr. David Michaels, head of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),  said that workers not only have a “right to know” the chemical hazards confronting them in the workplace, but with the changes to HCS, now have the ability to understand these hazards and how to address them.  If a worker’s “right to understand” hazards is paramount, then why hasn’t OSHA taken similar steps to update its regulations for facility and workplace safety signs?

OSHA regulations currently reference standards for safety signs that were published in 1967 and 1968, and even those were based on sign design parameters defined in 1941! Clearly, a lot has changed in U.S. workplaces in the 45 years since these standards have been written.  A wide range of U.S. industries use sophisticated equipment and technology in their processes and building control systems. New technologies have spawned entire new industries that have multifaceted potential hazards that could not have been imagined decades ago. As a result, safety signs associated with more complex workplaces must attempt to communicate critical—and often more detailed—safety messages to an increasingly multi-cultural workforce.

OSHA has an opportunity to bring its regulations into the 21st century simply by updating its existing regulations to reference the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z535 series of standards for safety signs. The 2011 versions of these standards define the state-of-the-art when there is a legal question as to the adequacy of a warning. They better define content for signs, offer improved sign formats, and differentiate between varying degrees of risk/hazard severity, resulting in consistency and leading to improved comprehension.

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Hot Topics

06.08.12
X-ray Lasers from Tabletop Device
An international team of scientists has generated the first laser-like beams of X-rays from a tabletop device. Most of today's X-ray lasers require so much power they rely on facilities the size of sports stadiums. This has prompted efforts to build a cost-effective and reasonably sized X-ray laser. The development, reported in Science journal, could pave the way for super high-resolution imaging that could peer into a cell or a chemical reaction.
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06.04.12
Policy Decisions Make Things Happen for the Smart Grid
6/6/2012 - States like California are making things happen through innovative policies, exemplified in two decisions just enacted in this past week that will influence the state’s three investor-owned utilities’ Smart Grid plans. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ruled in favor of an expanded definition and standard calculation to develop the number of residential and small commercial customers who can participate in net metering. Net metering is a tariff that lets participants receive...
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On the Hill/Around the Nation

06.04.12
Connecticut Enacts Thermostat Recycling Legislation Based on NEMA Model: Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy signed legislation establishing a mandatory recycling program for mercury switch thermostats. NEMA strongly supported this bill, which reflects the industry’s model framework for thermostat legislation. The new law will complement the activities of the industry-funded Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC), a voluntary, nationwide collection program formed by three NEMA member companies in 1998. A key element of the law is shared responsibility wherein all parties in the distribution chain—not just manufacturers—contribute to the safe handling and disposal of mercury switch thermostats. Experience in other states has clearly demonstrated that shared responsibility is a key feature of successful state programs. The law also avoids the costly and complicated “bounty” provision adopted in other states, which NEMA vigorously opposes. NEMA is supporting similar bills in two other states and will continue to advocate for sensible, economically sustainable thermostat legislation.

06.04.12
NEMA Pushing to Bring S 1000 to Senate Floor: NEMA is leading the effort, along with other business and environmental groups, to encourage Senate leadership to bring S 1000, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, to the Senate floor this summer, before the prospect of November elections grinds legislative business to a halt. S 1000 creates an energy-efficiency loan guarantee program for buildings and a federal-state revolving loan program for industrial efficiency investments. It establishes a rebate program for investment in NEMA Premium Transformers. S 1000 encourages the federal government to become more efficient by improving the efficiency of its building designs and utilizing advanced metering infrastructure, electric vehicle supply equipment, and energy savings performance contracts. Contact your Senators and ask them to urge Senate Leadership to bring S 1000 to the floor.  NEMA promotes energy efficiency as a central component of comprehensive U.S. energy policy.

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International News

06.11.12
Power + Water Middle East 2012
Date: 8–10, October 2012
Location: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, UAE
Power + Water Middle East 2012 is one of the region’s premier events for showcasing power and water related products and services. It provides a platform for professionals from these industries to interact with a number of the world’s leading companies and organizations.

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