OSHA Safety News

For more safety news or OSHA releases, visit OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.

OSHA Electronic Reporting Rule Indefinitely Suspended

Gary Auman
NIA General Counsel

On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indefinitely suspended the new electronic reporting rule that was to go into effect on July 1. OSHA indicated that it wanted to further investigate employer concerns raised about the new rule. As of the day of its action, OSHA had not yet established a web address for employers to use when making these reports.

From the OSHA website: Updates will be posted to the OSHA website at www.osha.gov/recordkeeping when they are available.


OSHA—2013 Interpretative Letter

Gary W. Auman
NIA General Counsel

May 2017—The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently taken action to rescind the February 2013 interpretative letter, also known as the Fairfax memo, which permitted employees at non-union companies to designate a non-employee union representative to accompany an OSHA compliance officer as he/she conducted a site compliance inspection. The Fairfax memo was issued at the request of organized labor. The focus of the organized labor was Section 1903.8(c) of the Code of Federal Regulations. This section gives a compliance officer the latitude to permit a third party to accompany him during an inspection if he feels that the third party can contribute some expertise to assist him during the inspection. Prior to the Fairfax memo this assistance focused on safety engineers or industrial hygienists.

The position of organized labor was that this regulation contemplates permitting “any” third party to accompany the compliance officer if the compliance officer feels that the presence of the third party was reasonably necessary.  While most could see how a third party industrial hygienist or a safety engineer or even an interpreter could add a level of expertise to compliance it was considerably more difficult to see such a contribution in a compliance inspection. The rationalization was that the union representative may have had experience in evaluating working conditions or had some other potentially valuable contribution to make.

Non-union employers saw this more as a blatant attempt of organized labor to gain access to their workforce. Recently the Fairfax memo was challenged in the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The challenge was that the interpretive letter was in fact an expansion of the existing regulation and, therefore should have been proposed under the rule-making provision of the Administrative Procedures Act. Following an action by the Court on the lawsuit in early February 2017, OSHA on April 27, 2017, agreed to rescind the interpretation letter and to remove that “guidance” from the Field Operations Manual.


OSHA Delays Enforcement of Crystalline Silica Standard in the Construction Industry

April 6, 2017
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a delay in enforcement of the crystalline silica standard that applies to the construction industry. Originally scheduled to begin June 23, 2017, enforcement will now begin September 23, 2017. OSHA will be conducting additional outreach and providing educational materials and guidance for employers.

OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit, or to implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in Table 1 of the standard. Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard’s other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance and employee training.

To view OSHA’s full press release, click here.


US Labor Department announces delay in beryllium rule effective date

March 22, 2017

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a delay in the effective date of the rule titled “Occupational Exposure to Beryllium,” from March 21, 2017, to May 20, 2017.

The delay will allow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration an opportunity for further review and consideration of the rule, in keeping with a Jan. 20, 2017, White House memorandum, titled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.”

OSHA published the final rule on Jan. 9, 2017, and previously announced the effective date would be postponed to March 21, 2017. On March 1, 2017, OSHA sought comments on a further extension to May 20, 2017.

OSHA has now determined that the further delay is appropriate for the purpose of additional review into questions of law and policy.

The extension of the effective date will not affect the compliance dates of the beryllium rule. For more information, see the OSHA web page.

Please find the link to the notice on the Federal Register here.


OSHA issues recommended practices to promote workplace anti-retaliation
programs

January 13, 2017
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs to help employers create workplaces in which workers feel comfortable voicing their concerns without fear of retaliation. The recommendations are intended to apply to all public and private sector employers covered by the 22 whistleblower protection laws that OSHA enforces.

The recommendations are adaptable to most workplaces, and employers may adjust them for such variables as number of employees, the makeup of the workforce, and the type of work performed. The concepts can be used to create a new program or enhance an existing one.

The document outlines five key elements of an effective anti-retaliation program:

  1. Management leadership, commitment, and accountability
  2. System for listening to and resolving employees’ safety and compliance concerns
  3. System for receiving and responding to reports of retaliation
  4. Anti-retaliation training for employees and managers
  5. Program oversight

“These recommended practices will provide companies with the tools to create a robust anti-retaliation program,” said Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “In the long run, it’s good for workers and good for business.”

An initial draft of the Recommended Practices was posted for review and comment in the fall of 2016. The final document incorporates many of these comments, as described here.

These recommendations are advisory only and do not interpret or create any legal obligations, or alter existing obligations created by OSHA standards or regulations.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of Section 11(c) of the OSH Act, and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities laws, trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, maritime, health care, workplace safety and health regulations, and consumer product safety laws. For more information, visit www.whistleblowers.gov.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.


Update on Overtime Rules

December 8, 2016
Stephen A. Watring
Dunlevey, Mahan + Furry, www.dmfdayton.com

According to an order just issued today by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, briefing over the Department of Labor’s controversial new white collar exemption rules will not be completed until  January 31, 2017, with oral argument before the Court to be scheduled thereafter.   Under the briefing schedule, the Department of Labor is to file two briefs—the first while Obama is still in power and the second 11 days after Trump takes office.  It remains to be seen whether the Trump administration will support the new rules or retreat from them in some fashion.

At a minimum, this means that the new white collar salary rules will be blocked until after Trump takes office.  Employers that have not yet taken steps to implement the new rules may desire to delay implementation until this issue is resolved.

These rules were scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016.  As discussed in our November 23 alert, a federal judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction temporarily blocking the rules.  That decision was then appealed to the 5th Circuit.

 


OSHA delays enforcement of anti-retaliation provisions of injury
and illness tracking rule until December 1

October 12, 2016
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has agreed to further delay enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions in its injury and illness tracking rule until Dec. 1, 2016. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas requested the delay to allow additional time to consider a motion challenging the new provisions.

The anti-retaliation provisions were originally scheduled to begin Aug. 10, 2016, but were previously delayed until Nov. 10 to allow time for outreach to the regulated community.

Under the rule, employers are required to inform workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation; implement procedures for reporting injuries and illnesses that are reasonable and do not deter workers from reporting; and incorporate the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against workers for reporting injuries and illnesses.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

 


OSHA schedules meeting of Advisory Committee on Construction
Safety and Health; requests nominations for membership

October 24, 2016
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will hold a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health Nov. 30 – Dec. 1, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

The agenda includes remarks from Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health; updates from the Directorate of Construction; clarification of requirements in the crane standard; updates from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management; updates on the National Safety Stand-Down; and public comment period.

The meeting will be held 1- 5 p.m. ET, November 30 and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET, December 1 in Room N-3437 A-C at the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210. The meetings are open to the public. Comments and requests to speak may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments, requests to speak and requests for special accommodations must be submitted by Nov. 11, 2016.

Additionally, OSHA is accepting nominations for eight new members to serve on the 15-member committee. Nominations will be accepted from those interested in representing employee (3), employer (3), public (1) and state safety and health agency (1) groups. Nominations may be submitted at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Submissions may also be sent by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 27, 2017.

ACCSH, established under the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, advises the secretary of labor and assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health on construction standards and policy matters.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

 


OSHA releases updated recommended practices to encourage workplace safety and health programs

October 18, 2016
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today released a set of Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs to help employers establish a methodical approach to improving safety and health in their workplaces.

The recommendations update OSHA’s 1989 guidelines to reflect changes in the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. The recommendations feature a new, easier-to-use format and should be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized businesses. Also new is a section on multi-employer workplaces and a greater emphasis on continuous improvement. Supporting tools and resources are included.

The programs are not prescriptive; they are built around a core set of business processes that can be implemented to suit a particular workplace in any industry. OSHA has seen them successfully implemented in manufacturing, construction, health care, technology, retail, services, higher education, and government.

Key principles include: leadership from the top to send a message that safety and health is critical to the business operations; worker participation in finding solutions; and a systematic approach to find and fix hazards.

“Since OSHA’s original guidelines were published more than 25 years ago, employers and employees have gained a lot of experience in how to use safety and health programs to systematically prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “We know that working together to implement these programs will help prevent injuries and illnesses, and also make businesses more sustainable.”

The OSHA recommendations include seven core elements for a safety and health program: management leadership; worker participation; hazard identification and assessment; hazard prevention and control; education and training; program evaluation and improvement; and communication and coordination for host employers, contractors and staffing agencies.

Dr. Michaels released the new document today at the National Safety Council Congress in Anaheim, Calif. In his remarks, he asked business groups and safety and health professionals to help spread the word through a campaign that encourages creation of a safety and health program using OSHA or other program recommendations that may be more appropriate to their businesses.

The recommendations are advisory only and do not create any new legal obligations or alter existing obligations created by OSHA standards or regulations.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.