“Top 5 OSHA Issues to Track in 2017″ Webinar” @OSHA_Guy

Presented by Eric J. Conn, Kate McMahon, Amanda Strainis-Walker, Micah Smith, Lindsay DiSalvo and Dan Deacon

The ball has dropped, the confetti has been swept out of Times Square, and 2016 is in the books.  It’s time to look back at the year and take stock of what we learned from and about OSHA over the past year.  More importantly, the question on everyone’s mind (well, maybe just ours), is what can we expect from OSHA in the first year of the Trump Administration?  In this webinar event, attorneys from the national OSHA Practice Group at Conn Maciel Carey will review OSHA enforcement, rulemaking, and other developments from 2016, and will discuss the Top 5 OSHA Issues employers should monitor and prepare for in the New Year.

Participants will learn the following:

  • 2016 OSHA enforcement data and trends and rulemaking achievements

  • Important OSHA developments from 2016

  • Major OSHA rulemaking and other developments to expect during the Trump Administration’s inaugural year

  • Other significant OSHA policy issues to watch out for in the New Year

Click here for a complete list of Conn Maciel Carey OSHA Webinars for 2017

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“Effective Dates for New OSHA Recordkeeping Rule Looming”

electronic-recordkeeping

Is Your Company Ready for Public Access to Your Workplace Injuries and OSHA’s Oversight of Retaliation Protections?

Earlier this year the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) published a new rule that attempts to shame employers into lowering workplace injuries and gives OSHA much broader discretion to regulate retaliation by employers. The rule’s new requirements take effect in the coming months.

Changes to OSHA’s Recordkeeping Requirements Require Employers to Air Their Dirty Laundry

Beginning in 2017, OSHA will require certain employers to electronically submit portions of the workplace injury and illness data that they are currently required to keep to OSHA.  Even worse, parts of these submissions, including the identity of the employer and the amount and types of injuries sustained by the employees, can be publically posted to the OSHA website.  Under the current rule (at 29 CFR 1904), there was no requirement for automatic submissions to OSHA or for establishment-specific public disclosure, electronic or otherwise.

Employers who currently do not have any obligation to maintain records on workplace injuries can breathe easy—nothing has changed for them and there is nothing for them to report.  Nor does the new rule change or add to an employer’s existing obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records.  Specifically, under the new rule:

  • establishments with 250 or more employees are required to electronically submit the injury and illness report for each case (Form 301), the compiled log of these cases (Form 300), and the workplace annual summary of work-related injuries and illnesses (Form 300A) on an annual basis;
  • establishments with between 20 and 249 employees in certain industries are required to electronically submit information from their annual summary of injuries and illnesses (Form 300A) to OSHA on an annual basis (click here for the list of industries); and
  • all establishments must electronically submit information from their recordkeeping forms upon written notification from OSHA.

Although the rule takes effect on January 1, 2017, compliance is phased. For establishments with 250 or more employees, only Form 300A (from 2016) must be submitted in the first year by July 1, 2017.  In the following year, this group of establishments must submit all three of their 2017 forms (Form 300, 300A, and 301) by July 1, 2018.  The smaller establishments with between 20 and 249 employees, which are only required to submit Form 300A, have a submission deadline of July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018, respectively, for the first two years of compliance.  Beginning in 2019, the submission deadline for all regulated establishments will be March 2, not July 1.

Instituting Stricter Anti-Retaliation Protocols, with Unfettered OSHA Oversight

The new rule also incorporates anti-retaliation provisions, enforcement of which has been delayed from November 1, 2016 to December 1, 2016 due to pending litigation in federal court that challenges the new provisions.  See TEXO ABC/AGC Inc. v. Perez, No. 3:16-cv-01998-D (N.D. Tex.).  This new rule contains three requirements.  First, employers are required to inform their employees about their right to report workplace injuries and illnesses free from retaliation, as opposed to merely informing employees of the procedures for reporting workplace injuries and illnesses which was a requirement under the previous rule.  Second, employers must adopt a reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illness that does not deter employees from reporting.  Procedures may be deemed unreasonable under the new rule if they require, for example, immediate reporting without accounting for exceptions for injuries or illnesses that build up over time, or post-incident drug testing where there is no reasonable possibility that drug use contributed to the injury.

Finally, the rule incorporates the statutory prohibition (at 29 U.S.C. § 660) on employer retaliation against employees for reporting workplace injuries and illnesses.  As OSHA directs in its commentary, this new provision provides OSHA an additional enforcement tool for ensuring accuracy of work-related injury and illness records.  Under the old regime, OSHA had to rely on employees to file complaints on their own behalf before instituting action.  Now, regardless of whether an employee has filed a complaint pursuant to the existing statutory directive, OSHA can take its own initiative to (a) issue citations to employers for retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries and illness and (b) require abatement of the violation (i.e., require the employer to eliminate the source of the retaliation and make whole the “retaliated-against” employee).  Giving OSHA the total power to institute enforcement measures on its own accord takes any predictability out of the regulations and gives employers little leeway to develop its own workable and tailored protocols.  Clearly, the outcome of the pending litigation over these anti-retaliation provisions will be something to look out for over the coming months.

The Take-Away

OSHA is touting the rule as one which will “nudge” employers to take more safety precautions.  OSHA believes the new rule will give employers the ability to compare their injury data with other businesses in their industry and provide researchers with access to data to further their research in workplace injury.  Speculations aside, one thing is for certain—the new rule will create additional headaches for businesses dealing with workplace injuries.  Businesses will now have to fear possible targeted investigation by OSHA if they have a higher injury rate and prepare for negative backlash from potential employees and potential investors.

Employers are encouraged to contact legal counsel to ensure their current compliance with OSHA and to put a plan in place to comply with the new rule.

Source: Emily Migliaccio, Alicia Samolis  | Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP

“OSHA Announces Feral Cats Are Not Vermin”

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On October 4, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a press release and announced that it was proposing changes to 18 separate regulations “as part of an ongoing effort to revise provisions in its standards that may be confusing, outdated or unnecessary.

The proposals run across a wide spectrum from the technical (i.e., allowing ex-rays to be maintained in digital format); to the procedural (i.e., making the process safety management standard the same for construction and general industry); to the completely understandable (i.e., eliminating any uses of employee social security numbers in exposure monitoring); to the somewhat odd (i.e., eliminating feral cats from the definition of “vermin” in the shipyard equipment regulation).

On the last point, the agency press release noted that “OSHA recognizes that feral cats pose a minor, if any, threat, and tend to avoid human contact, and OSHA proposes to remove the term ‘feral cats’ from the definition of vermin in the standard.”  The deadline for submitting comments to any of the proposals is December 5, 2016.

OSHA’s Standards Improvement Project, Proposed Revisions
October 2016

Reporting job-related hearing loss

OSHA recordkeeping regulations require employers to record and report occupational injuries and illnesses. The proposed revision codifies current enforcement policy and clarifies that a determination whether an employee’s hearing loss is “work-related” must be made using specific, clear criteria, which are also set out in OSHA regulations.

Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)

The proposed revision clarifies employers’ duties under the lockout/tagout standard. The existing general industry standard requires protections against the “unexpected energization” of machinery during servicing. The proposed revision to remove the term “unexpected” reflects OSHA’s original intent and eliminates confusion regarding applicability of the standard.

Chest X-Ray (CXR) Requirements

The proposed revision removes the requirement for periodic CXR in the standards for inorganic arsenic, coke oven emissions, and acrylonitrile to make OSHA’s requirement consistent with current medical practices and reduce employer burden and paperwork.

X-Ray Storage

The proposed revision permits storage of x-rays in digital formats. OSHA adopted the existing requirement for storage of x-ray film before the existence of digital x-ray and storage technology.

Lung-function testing

The proposed revisions update the lung-function testing (spirometry) requirements for the cotton dust standard to make them consistent with current medical practices and technology.

Feral Cats

Existing requirements in the sanitation standard for Shipyard Employment specify that employers must maintain workplaces in a manner that prevents vermin infestation. OSHA recognizes that feral cats pose a minor, if any, threat, and tend to avoid human contact, and OSHA proposes to remove the term “feral cats” from the definition of vermin in the standard.

911 Emergency Services at Worksites

Existing construction regulations require employers to conspicuously post telephone numbers for ambulances, etc. at worksites located in areas where 911 emergency dispatch services are not available. The proposed revision updates this requirement to reflect the predominance of the use of cellular telephones at construction sites and the widespread adoption of 911 emergency dispatch services. The proposed revision requires the posting of location information at worksites in areas that do not have Enhanced 911 (which automatically supplies the caller’s location information to the dispatcher).

Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)

The proposed revisions to the construction PELs requirements are corrections and clarifications to make this standard consistent with other OSHA PELs standards.

Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals

To avoid unnecessary duplication, OSHA proposes to replace the entire thirty-one pages of regulatory text for the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM) Standard for construction with a cross reference to the identical general industry standard.

Personal Protective Equipment

Ensuring that personal protective equipment (PPE) properly fits each employee is essential to employees’ protection. The proposed revision to require employers to select PPE that properly fits each employee clarifies the construction PPE requirements and makes them consistent with general industry requirements.

Lanyard/lifeline Break Strength

The proposed revision standardizes break-strength requirements for lanyards and lifelines throughout the construction and general industry standards.

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)

The proposed revisions update and clarify the provisions related to traffic signs and devices, flaggers, and barricades to align with current DOT requirements. This removes the burden on construction employers, who have sought this change, to follow multiple sets of regulations for OSHA, DOT, and state and local governments.

Load Limit Postings

The proposed revision exempts single family dwellings from a requirement to post maximum safe-load limits for floors in buildings under construction, reducing a burden for residential builders. The existing OSHA standard requires posting in residential dwellings where safe-load limits are rarely, if ever, an issue, thus eliminating a paperwork burden for construction employers.

Excavation Hazards

The proposed revision clarifies employers’ duties in the excavation standard. The proposed revision clarifies that a hazard is presumed to exist when loose rock or soil and excavated material or equipment is beside a trench.

MSHA Underground Construction – Diesel Engines

Existing regulatory language requires that mobile diesel-powered equipment used underground comply with outdated Mine Safety Health Administration’s (MSHA) provisions. The proposed revision updates the regulatory language to cross-reference to the revised MSHA provisions.

Underground Construction

The proposed revision replaces outdated decompression tables used to protect employees working in pressurized underground construction sites. The proposal allows employers to use the modern French decompression tables.

Rollover Protective Structures

The proposed revision replaces the outdated construction standard with references to the appropriate consensus standards.

Regulation of coke oven emissions in construction

The proposed revision removes the regulation of coke oven emissions provisions from the construction standards. Any work during operation of coke ovens is general industry work, and the standard does not fit construction work.

Collection of Social Security Numbers

The proposed revision comprehensively removes from general industry, construction, and maritime standards all requirements to include an employee’s social security number on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, and other records in order to protect employee privacy and prevent identity fraud.

For more information, read the news release.

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