Congress Votes to Overturn OSHA Recordkeeping Rule

Yesterday, March 22, 2017, the Senate passed H.J. Res. 83, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to invalidate an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation which was promulgated in December 2016 to overturn the 2012 D.C. Circuit Court “Volks” decision regarding the statute of limitations for recordkeeping violations.  The “Volks CRA was previously passed in the House of Representatives on March 1, 2017. The CRA resolution will now go to President Trump who has indicated he will sign it.

In the 2012 “Volks case, AKM LLC dba Volks Constructors v. Secretary of Labor, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously held that OSHA no longer could issue citations alleging that an employer failed, more than 6 months before, to record an employee injury on a log. The “Volks” CRA resolution would block OSHA’s Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness. Finalized on December 19, 2016, the rule extended to five years the explicit six-month statute of limitations on recordkeeping violations in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

IPC, along with a coalition of industry groups, opposed the rule, citing that OSHA lacked the statutory authority to override the original six-month limit contained in the OSHA Act. IPC has actively supported the efforts of the coalition seeking to overturn the rule.

IPC Files Comments on TSCA Inventory Reset

On March 14, 2017, IPC filed comments on the EPA’s proposed regulations to “reset” the inventory by sorting the TSCA inventory into active and inactive chemicals.  The inventory reset is one of the implementing regulations under the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act” (LCSA) which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

IPC’s comments support EPA’s proposal to have chemical manufacturers, who have the primary responsibility, to report first, followed by a voluntary period for processors to report substances that have not been placed on the preliminary active list by EPA or manufacturers.

IPC also encourages the EPA to limit the rulemaking to collecting data elements that are required by statute, clarify the definition of “processors,” and clarify the exclusion of reporting of chemicals in articles.

IPC Comments on SEC Conflict Minerals Regulation

On March 16, 2017, IPC filed comments with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asking the SEC to consider modifications of the rule and Section 1502 to reduce the burden on U.S. manufacturing industries. The comments were filed in response to Acting SEC Chairman Michael S. Piwowar’s January 31, 2017 statement, questioning the effects of the regulation, including the negative impacts of a de-facto boycott.

IPC comments acknowledge that the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and surrounding region remain a significant concern, but question the extent to which the sale of conflict minerals contributes to it.  

The comments ask the SEC and Congress to reconsider Dodd-Frank and, at a minimum, adopt burden-reducing measures such as de-minis thresholds and harmonization with EU regulations, which are only mandatory for smelters and importers.

For more information, contact Fern Abrams, IPC director of regulatory affairs at FernAbrams@ipc.org.

 

IPC Supports EU Vote for Voluntary Conflict Minerals Requirements for Manufacturers

On March 16, 2017, the European Union (EU) Parliament voted to adopt regulations regarding the sourcing of conflict minerals in high risk zones. The regulations, which require supply chain due diligence self-certification of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas, are mandatory for smelters and importers of raw materials and voluntary for downstream manufacturers whose products contain these minerals.

IPC supports the EU approach which concentrates on upstream importers and smelters which are closest to the mines and thereby most able to assess whether the minerals are associated with the funding of violence, human rights abuses, and damages to the environment.

IPC also appreciates that the EU regulation recognizes the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines for responsible sourcing of minerals, fostering alignment between various regional programs affecting the electronic industries’ global supply chains.  Alignment of regulatory regimes reduces the promotes effectiveness and efficiency.

IPC looks forward to contributing to the work of the European Commission on the various guidelines and other supportive documents for companies covered by the regulation. For example, IPC supports the establishment of a process to clearly define the geographic areas as a “conflict-affected and high-risk area.” Businesses need clear guidance to identify “conflict-affected and high-risk areas” to make the system predictable and workable.

IPC will continue advocating for conflict minerals regulation that avoids actions that unduly burden industry or cause unnecessary disruptions of the minerals trade.

For additional information on conflict minerals, contact Fern Abrams, IPC director of regulatory affairs at FernAbrams@ipc.org.

 

 

IPC Meets with EPA Transition Team on RCRA Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

IPC met last week with EPA senior staff to discuss our concerns with the recently published Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule and the February 24 petition for review filed with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals by IPC and eight other trade associations.

Although EPA’s rule includes some common-sense updates that will bring greater efficiency and clarity to the Hazardous Waste Generator regulatory program, other aspects of the rule are quite draconian.  IPC and the other associations are especially concerned about a provision that will change the criteria under which a generator of hazardous waste can be treated as operating a RCRA Treatment, Storage and Disposal (TSDF) facility that is operating without a required permit. Under the new rule, failure to meet any one of EPA’s long list of ‘conditions for exemption’ could subject a generator to multiple violations and substantial penalties. Even a minor deviation in compliance would cause a generator to now be considered an illegal TSDF.

The meeting was held to elevate the issue with the new EPA transition team and to discuss options moving forward, including an agreement to put the petition for review lawsuit in abeyance while EPA and IPC discuss the possibility of EPA proposing changes to the rule.

Trump Administration Considers Suspension of Conflict Minerals Regulation

The Trump Administration is considering an executive order that would suspend the SEC conflict minerals rule for two years. Under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, the president has the authority to temporarily suspend or revise the rule for two years if it is in the national security interest of the United States. 

An unsourced draft White House memo that cites national security interests, temporarily suspends the federal conflict minerals law for a period of two years. The draft also directs the Secretaries of State and Treasury to:

“Propose to the President a plan for addressing human rights violations and funding of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country. The plan could include targeting persons and entities engaged in violations of law and negative human rights impacts, consistent with section 13 of the Exchange Act. The Secretaries shall submit their plan to the President within 180 days of the date of this Order.”

As previously reported on January 31, 2017, Acting Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Michael S. Piwowar directed the SEC staff to consider whether their 2014 guidance is still appropriate and whether any additional relief is appropriate. 

New Draft Guidance on REACH Substances in Articles

On February 1, 2017, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) shared a revised draft of their Guidance on requirements for substances in articles. The current draft of Version 4.0 is being shared with members of the Forum for Exchange of Information on Enforcement (Forum), which is a network of authorities responsible for the enforcement of the REACH regulation in the EU. According to the draft preface, Version 4.0 is a more comprehensive update of the guidance, including a consultation of the Partner Expert Group (PEG) selected from ECHA’s accredited stakeholders. This version aims primarily at aligning further the text of the guidance and introducing new examples that are consistent with the conclusions of the Court judgement. 

As reported previously, the final update of the guidance is not expected to be published until July or August 2017. 

IPC will host a panel discussion on complying with REACH Substances in Articles on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 as part of IPC APEX EXPO.

PD18 : Preventing Production Defects and Product Failures

Under today’s manufacturing and market environment, the effort to maximize production yield, reduce cost, and assure product reliability is becoming increasingly important to a company’s competitiveness. Considering the new and anticipated developments in packaging and assembly and with the goal of achieving high yield and reliability in mind, the “how-to” prevent prevailing production defects and product reliability issues through an understanding of potential causes is a necessity.

On Monday, February 13, from 9:00 to 12:00 pm, Dr. Jennie Hwang’s professional development course (PD18) at IPC APEX EXPO to be held at the San Diego Conference Center will address the top seven production defects and issues – PCB pad cratering (vs. pad lifting); BGA head-on-pillow defect; open or insufficient solder joints; copper dissolution issue; lead-free through-hole barrel filling, intermetallic compounds, and tin whisker. The role of intermetallics at-interface and in-bulk (contributing from the PCB surface finish/component coating) in relation to product reliability; the difference between SnPb and Pb-free solder joint in terms of intermetallic compounds, which in turn is attributed to production-floor phenomena and the actual field failure will be discussed. From practical perspectives, tin whisker with emphasis on risk mitigation through understanding the factors that affect tin whisker growth and its preventive and remedial solutions will be outlined. The practical tin whisker criteria for reliability implications in the lead-free environment and the relative effectiveness and the order of priority in mitigating measures will be ranked. Specific defects associated with BTCs and PoPs and the reliability of BTC and PoP assembly will also be outlined.

The course provides a holistic overview of product reliability including the important roles of materials, processes and testing/service conditions, as well as the crucial principles behind the product reliability. The course is suitable to all who are involved with or interested in SnPb and Pb-free manufacturing including designers, engineers, researchers, managers and business decision makers; also is designed for those who desire the broad-based information.

The main topics to be covered in this course are listed below. You are encouraged to bring your questions and issues for solutions and discussions.

Main Topics:
• Premise of production defects and product failure prevention;
• The list of common production defects and issues in lead-free assembly;
• Product reliability – principles;
• Product reliability – solder joint, PCB and component considerations;
• PCB pad cratering (vs. pad lifting) — causes and solutions;
• Open or insufficient solder Joints – different sources, best practices;
• BGA head-on-pillow defect — causes, factors, remedies;
• Copper dissolution – process factors, impact on through-hole joint reliability, mitigation;
• Lead-free through-hole barrel filling — material, process and solder joint integrity
• Defects of BTC and PoP solder joints – prevention and remedies;
• Intermetallic compounds – fundamentals, characteristics;
• Intermetallic compounds – effects on failure mode, solder joint reliability;
• Tin whisker – applications of concern, practical criteria, testing challenges;
• Tin whisker – growth phenomena, contributing factors, risk mitigation, practical remedies;
• Summary

Electronics Manufacturers in China Must Join New Pollution Tracking System

On January 23, 2017, the Chinese government published a list of industries, including computer, communications and electronic equipment manufacturing, that will be required to register under the new critical monitoring system outlined in November 2016.  The system will track companies’ air and water discharges, which may be taxed.

While more than 20 industries must register this year, computer, communications and electronic equipment manufacturers are included in the second wave of companies which must join the system by 2020.

IPC will continue to post updates as they become available.

ECHA Guidance on Substances in Articles Delayed Until Summer

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced earlier this week that the update of their guidance on Substances in Articles will not be published until July or August 2017.  ECHA had previously indicated that guidance would be released in early 2017.

The delay is needed to allow ECHA to evaluate the nearly 700 comments on its current draft.  Many of the comments received by ECHA requested that the guidance be streamlined and simplified with more focused examples.

The guidance is being revised by ECHA to align the requirements for substances of very high concern (SVHCs) in articles with a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in 2015 which stated that the 0.1% threshold for notifying SVHCs in articles applies to each article incorporated as a component of a complex product, rather than to the entire article.

IPC comments on ECHA’s guidance can be viewed here.  IPC will host a panel discussion on complying with REACH Substances in Articles on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 as part of IPC APEX EXPO.