January ‘22 at-a-glance … regulations

Supreme Court blocks vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s proposed vaccine or testing mandate for companies with 100+ employees Jan. 13. In response, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) withdrew its vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard (ETS) issued Nov. 5, 2021. Although OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule. According to OSHA, it is, “Prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.”

Imports produced using Xinjiang forced labor banned

President Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in late December. The bill bars imports from Xinjiang where China has created detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, unless it can be proven that the goods were not produced with forced labor. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the law, “Underscores the U.S. commitment to combating forced labor, including ongoing genocide in Xinjiang.” President Trump had previously announced a ban on cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang. According to Christine Sohar Henter, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg, “Even if members aren’t directly purchasing from facilities in Xinjiang, it’s important they know the companies in their supply chain to avoid component parts being seized by Customs and Border Control.”

NAFEM advocates for reasonable Prop 65 requirements; two new PFAs added to list

NAFEM submitted comments to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) appreciating the organization’s decision to allow Proposition 65 “short-form” warnings on websites or catalogues when short-form warming also are acceptable for the product itself. NAFEM also reiterated its earlier request that OEHHA adopt a safe-harbor provision freeing manufacturers from Prop 65 liability as long as they have documentation requesting the information from suppliers. NAFEM also recommended OEHHA delay the proposed effective date of new regulations by one-to-two years to “allow businesses time to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic before being forced to reformulate product labels, catalogues and websites.”

Also, at the end of 2021, OEHHA added perfluoro octane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluoro nonanoic acid (PFNA) to the Prop 65 list of “naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals that are known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Both are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds and businesses are required to inform Californians about exposures to such chemicals.