Worker safety groups sue EPA over chemical evaluations

By Ellie Borst | 05/23/2024 01:25 PM EDT

The lawsuits say EPA shouldn’t factor in personal protective equipment when determining the risks of high-priority chemicals.

Seminar Kibir, health lab technician prepares chemicals to process analysis of some nasal swab samples to test for COVID-19 at the Hospital of Argenteuil, north of Paris, Friday Sept. 25, 2020.

Worker safety groups are suing EPA over assumptions it made in a chemical risk rule about workers’ access to personal protective equipment. Francois Mori/AP

At least three worker safety groups have launched lawsuits against EPA’s final chemical risk evaluation rule, alleging the agency’s language overly relies on assumptions about personal protective equipment, or PPE.

Worksafe Inc., a California-based nonprofit, the International Association of Machinists and the United Steelworkers — also known as the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union — filed complaints against EPA in the U.S. appellate courts for the 9th, 4th and D.C. circuits, respectively.

EPA’s final rule lays out a framework for how regulators risk reviews for chemicals under the agency’s extensive review process under the recently revamped Toxic Substances Control Act.


The Biden administration’s framework varies in a few key areas from the Trump administration’s framework, which the 9th Circuit tossed in 2021. EPA’s chemicals chief vowed this new framework would not assume that workers have adequate access to PPE while assessing risks, but the workers unions argue the rule offers too much leniency during the determination process.