Showing posts with label OSHA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OSHA. Show all posts

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Coronavirus Update 10-14-2021: We still don’t know what OSHA’s vaccine standard says … but we’re getting closer

Late Tuesday, news broke that OSHA had submitted in vaccine mandate Emergency Temporary Standard to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for its review. What does this mean? It means that OSHA has taken the first important step towards publishing the ETS and implementing its vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees.

But that's it.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Coronavirus Update 6-11-2021: OSHA’s long-awaited COVID-19 safety rule is a big bowl of … meh

Today is the 15-month anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. All that employers have asked of OSHA during the past year and a quarter is some clear guidance on the rules and expectations to keep employees healthy and safe. Yesterday, OSHA finally complied … sort of. 

The agency issued an emergency rule that sets workplace safety parameters for employers for the remainder of the pandemic. Critically, however, it only applies to health-care employers. (Does this apply to you? OSHA published this not-so-handy flowchart to help you out.) With a few exceptions for workplaces in which all employees are fully vaccinated and which bar anyone who may have COVID-19, health-care employers must maintain social distancing protocols, provide and ensure that workers wear appropriate face masks while at work, and give workers paid time off to get vaccinated and recover from vaccine side effects, among other provisions. OHSA even published this handy screening questionnaire, which I drafted for my clients 15 month ago.

For all other employers, OSHA updated its voluntary guidelines to focus primarily on protections for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers. These updates largely track the CDC's updated guidelines for the fully vaccinated

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Coronavirus Update 6-8-2021: OSHA updates employers of N95 use

OSHA recently provided employers an update on the proper use of N95 masks, including a new video, poster (in English and Spanish), and FAQ (which makes is clear that "an N95 respirator is effective in protecting workers from the virus that causes COVID-19).

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

What employers can expect from Biden’s presidency: A temporary emergency OSHA standard for COVID-19

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the identification of the first COVID-19 case in the United States. On January 20, 2020, the State of Washington and the CDC confirmed that someone in Washington State had contracted the virus. Since then, 24,809,840 additional Americans have contracted Covid, and 411,520 have died from it. 

All the while, OSHA, the federal agency charged with protecting health and safety in the workplace, has done very little to address the pandemic, and we still lack a national safety standard on keeping Covid-safe at work.

President Biden's OSHA will fix this glaring omission. He has called on Congress "to authorize the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a COVID-19 Protection Standard that covers a broad set of workers."

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Coronavirus Update 11-5-2020: OSHA levies $2 million in COVID-related citations and penalties

Are you tired of the endless din of vote counts and election news? Let's get back to the uplifting topic of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

OSHA recently announced a spate of COVID-related citations totaling $2,025,431 in fines. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Coronavirus Update 8-19-2020: Government watchdog says OSHA whistleblower claims up, investigations down during pandemic

According to a report released yesterday by the Office of Inspector General, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA has been flooded with complaints by employees that their employers retaliated against them for making virus-related complaints. Yet, because of staffing shortages within OSHA's whistleblower protection program, the agency has been severely hampered in its ability to promptly investigate claims, resulting in significant investigatory delays.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Does the ADA protect employees who travel to areas that potentially expose them to coronavirus?

Coronavirus is 2020’s pandemic du jour. It’s a serious, and potentially deadly, respiratory virus that (likely) started in Wuhan, China, and has now made its way into the U.S. with five confirmed cases.

Suppose you fire an employee who you fear might have been exposed to the virus. She exhibits no symptoms, but because she had recently traveled to an area in which she could have been exposed, you think it’s better safe than sorry not to have her work for you anymore. She sues for disability discrimination, claiming that you “regarded her” as disabled. Does she win her case? The outcome might surprise you.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

OSHA publishes new guidance on distracted driving

The reaction time of someone texting while driving is 35 percent worse than someone driving without any distractions. Compare that figure to the 12 percent deficit a drunk driver faces, and you begin to understand why distracted driving is so dangerous. Indeed, in 2018 alone, 4,637 people died in car crashes related to cell phone use.

OSHA understands this danger as well. Thus, in conjunction with Drive Safely Work Week (which occurred earlier this month), OSHA announced an educational campaign calling on employers to prevent work-related distracted driving, with a special focus on prohibiting texting while driving.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

When workplace training goes very, very wrong

A few months ago I participated in active-shooter training. I presented harassment training for a local manufacturer, and, at its conclusion, the company played a 10-minute video explaining to its employees what to do in an active-shooter situation. Generally I'm not a fan of training videos. They tend to be boring, poorly acted, and ineffective. This one, however, was quite effective. It was not only chilling to watch, but, a few months out, I still recall the ABCs of what to do during an active shooter (Avoid, Barricade, Confront).

An Indiana school district, however, had a different idea of how to train its employees to prepare for an active shooter.

This employer had its employees shot in the back, execution style, with plastic pellets.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

OSHA softens its hard line against workplace safety incentive programs and post-incident drug testing

It's been two years since OSHA announced its hard-line interpretation of its then newly announced anti-retaliation rules—that using incentive programs to penalize workers for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses, and that conducting post-incident drug testing without a reasonable possibility that employee drug use could have contributed to the reported injury or illness, constitutes unlawful retaliation under OSHA.

Last week, OSHA published a memo, which specifically clarifies that it "does not prohibit workplace safety incentive programs or post-incident drug testing." [emphasis in original]

What does this mean?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Compliance-by-carrot trumps compliance-by-stick

Democratic administrations are about enforcement.
Republican administrations are about education.

The endgame is still enforcement, but each side approaches this goal very differently.

This dichotomy might be an oversimplification, but, in at least in contrasting the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration, it is very true.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Can (or should) OSHA regulate the NFL?

Sports blog Deadspin asks: What If The NFL Were Regulated By OSHA?

Well, Deadspin, I’m glad you asked. I answered this very question over three years ago.

Monday, April 23, 2018

DO NOT sacrifice employee safety for productivity

Photo by Milo McDowell on Unsplash
The Verge reports that workers at an Amazon distribution facility are “forced to pee in bottles or forego their bathroom breaks entirely because fulfillment demands are too high.”

While this is horrible, and demeaning, it’s still just employees peeing in bottles. It’s not THAT big of deal? Right?


Monday, March 26, 2018

OSHA resources to protect healthcare workers

Photo by Natanael Melchor on Unsplash
You might think that construction workers or manufacturing employees have the highest rate of workplace injuries. To the contrary, however, it’s healthcare workers.

On average, U.S. hospitals recorded 6.8 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees, nearly twice the rate for private industry as a whole. The numbers are even higher for nursing and residential care facilities.

The most typical injuries include overexertion and repetitive stress; slips, trips, and falls; contact with objects; workplace violence; and exposure to harmful substances (including needle sticks).

Thankfully, if you are healthcare employer, OSHA has myriad publications to help.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Do you know what to do when an employee dies on the job?

It’s news an employer never wants to deliver.

“I’m sorry, but your spouse (or partner, child, or other family member) had an accident at work and unfortunately passed away.”

But it happens. In fact, according to OSHA it’s happened 357 times already this year.

Indeed, it happened just yesterday, at Cleveland State University. A piece of sheet metal fell and killed a construction worker.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

OSHA, what say you about Michael Phelps vs. Shark?

This week is Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. And the marquee event of this year's Shark Week was Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps "racing" a great white shark. I say "racing" because Phelps did not race an actual shark. Instead, he swam against a CGI shark based on a previously recorded shark. To create the CGI, the show had to record a shark swimming in a straight line for a pre-determined distance. And, since great white sharks are not known for their trainability, the job to lure the straight-line swim fell to this guy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

OSHA suggests employer best practices for anti-retaliation programs

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published recommended best practices to protect from retaliation employees who report workplace safety or other concerns under any of the 22 statutes OSHA enforces.

The document, entitled, Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs [pdf], outlines five key elements of an effective anti-retaliation program:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Common sense (sort of) prevails in Ohio over gun-owner discrimination law

Last week, I reported on Ohio Senate Bill 199 / Sub. House Bill 48, which would have elevated “concealed handgun licensure” to a protected class under Ohio’s employment discrimination law, on par with race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age, and ancestry.

My Twitter feed absolutely exploded with confusion and outrage. Some of the better replies:

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Federal court denies injunction against new OSHA retaliation rules

Stan Musial, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Honus Wagner, Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio. Six of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball. And all ended the careers with batting averages under .333. If you’re a baseball player, one out of three places you among the all-time greats. If you’re the Department of Labor, however, it’s not so good.

The DOL has already taken two big losses this month (first its Persuader Rule, and then its Overtime Rule), so you’ll forgive it if it’s not overly jubilant about closing November with a much needed win. Yet, a win is a win, and at this point the DOL will take what it can get from federal judges in Texas.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Feds publish a Halloween trick for employers

Have you seen It is a how-to manual for employees to file charges with the full gauntlet of federal labor-and-employment agencies―EEOC, NLRB, OSHA, and DOL Wage-and-Hour Division.