Legislative Updates from Around the World
An update of environmental and safety issues for your area.
If you’re not staying up to date on environmental and safety issues in your area/region, you’re missing out on an opportunity to help your company. Establishing and maintaining a working knowledge base of environmental compliance and health-and-safety-related rules and regulatory updates can aid you in establishing a best-practices scenario for your operation while avoiding potential costly penalties. Plus, you’ll put your company in better position to market itself as a green or sustainable operation to incoming clients.
What follows are just a few recent updates on legislation from around the country. Visit sgia.org for on-going regulatory updates.
Updating air regulations in Arizona
The Maricopa County Air Quality Department in Arizona has released a proposed directive updating Rule 337, Graphic Arts. This rule regulates emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and, most importantly, the department has included digital printing operations within its list of impacted facilities. And, this rule does impact manufacturers and suppliers to our industry.
While the proposal is not yet in effect, it’s important to understand its ramifications. Digital printing has been defined as a method of printing that does not use a physical master, stencil or plates, but uses an electronic device to transfer variable data, in the form of an image, from a computer to a variety of substrates. Digital printing methods include, but are not limited to, inkjet printing, electrophotographic printing, dye-sublimation printing, thermal wax printing, and solid ink printing. The rule’s requirements also apply to screen-printing operations.
Under the rule’s provisions, manufacturers and suppliers are defined as any person offering for sale within Maricopa County any VOC-containing materials for use in graphic-arts operations. This would include both screen and digital operations. MSDSs or product data sheets are to be supplied showing the material name, manufacturer’s name, specific mixing instructions, if applicable, and VOC content of the product as applied. It’s important to note that the rule does exempt radiation-cured inks and coatings from coverage under the regulation.
For both screen and digital operations, there are proposed VOC-content limitations for ink systems as well as requirements to reduce VOC emissions from cleaning solvents through the use of work practices.
Coming to you soon from OSHA
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is moving forward with an effort to propose and implement a regulation that would require all workplaces to implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program, affectionately referred to as I2P2. At first blush, who can be against implementation of a safety and health management program? Really no one, but as we say, the devil is in the details. In June, OSHA held a series of stakeholder meetings on the proposed I2P2 program.
This program has the potential to be extremely onerous to the small business community as it will allow OSHA inspectors unprecedented access to employer information, possibly including company financial information. Under this concept, it’s anticipated that employers will be required to evaluate the workplace for all hazards, both those that are covered by a specific regulation, and those that are not. The first unregulated hazard that comes to mind is ergonomics. The question that remains on the table: If an employee suffers an ergonomic hazard, would you be required to implement a full-blown ergonomic training and awareness program? It’s not clear how OSHA plans to address these unregulated hazard areas.
Another key question on the table is the requirement to provide adequate resources for safety programs. How would an OSHA inspector determine adequate resources? Would they be allowed access to company financial records and then determine whether or not adequate resources are devoted to safety activities? Too soon to tell.
California South Coast issues
If you operate a facility in California’s South Coast Management District, and/or supply inks, chemicals, etc., to facilities in the South Coast district, there are two updates to provide regarding recent activities.
Proposed Rule 317 affects companies with the potential to emit more than 10 tons of VOCs. The rule allows the SCAQMD to collect fees under a provision (Section 185) of the Clean Air Act. Moreover, these fees would be in levied in addition to other fees that are paid, and they would continue until the Los Angeles metropolitan area is declared to be in attainment, which likely won’t happen in our lifetime. The vote by the SCAQMD Board was delayed as the District approaches both the US Congress and US EPA for a new approach. The current rule could cost an impacted facility tens of thousands of dollars.
In addition, the South Coast has denied a request to de-list dimethyl carbonate as a VOC. It was hoped that the district would move to de-list this compound, which would have helped manufacturers reformulate cleaning solvents to meet the 100-grams-of-VOC-per-liter-limit set by the district.
New solvent cleaning rules for Illinois
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has issued new regulations governing solvent-cleaning operations. This is the last in a long line of actions taken by the state to incorporate changes required by the US EPA.
To determine applicability under the new standard, facilities must review their cleaning operations to determine if their emissions of VOCs are equal to or more than 15 pounds per day. Roughly, this equates to the use of about 1.5 gallons of solvents used in cleaning operations per day. There are a few notable exemptions.
Stripping of cured coatings, inks, or adhesives— -- including screen- reclamation activities— -- are not covered by this new regulation. Further, any cleaning operation performed in prepress areas, including the cleaning of film processors, color scanners, etc., are exempt.
Most importantly, cleaning operations associated with digital printing are exempt from the requirements in this new regulation.
So, what’s left? Cleaning of ink-application equipment. For screen printing, the VOC content limit for this activity has been set at 4.2 pounds of VOC per gallon. Facilities do have the option of using a solvent with a vapor pressure of 8 mmHG or less.
If you operate a facility in Illinois, you should take a look at all of your cleaning operations. Perform a calculation to show that emissions from all cleaning operations never exceed 15 pounds per day, in the absence of any air-pollution control equipment. From this calculation, remove any solvents used to strip cured inks and coatings, solvents used in screen reclamation activities, and solvents used in cleaning operations for digital equipment.