Author Archives: OSHA: Legal Developments and Defense Strategies

US Department of Labor Delays Beryllium Rule For the Second Time

On January 9, 2017, OSHA published a rule entitled “Occupational Exposure to Beryllium.” The new rule amends OSHA’s existing standards for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds. Beryllium and beryllium compounds are important materials used in various industries, but they are highly toxic, and if inhaled, can increase the risk of developing chronic beryllium disease or lung cancer. The rule change was the result of OSHA’s determination that employees exposed to beryllium at the previously permissible exposure limits faced a significant risk of material…

Continue Reading....
iStock_000034400874_Large

Return of the MAC: OSHA Aye-Aye’s Maritime Charter

On January 19, 2017, OSHA’s Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor renewed a charter first promulgated more than 20 years ago by OSHA’s Maritime Advisory Committee — the oft-referred “MAC.” In so doing, OSHA celebrated a “return of the MAC,” so to speak, by recognizing MAC as a mainstay in U.S. maritime bureaucracy. It remains unclear if OSHA intended its arguably less sexy adaptation as a tacit homage to the timeless 1996 Billboard hit, “Return of the Mack”*; crystal clear, however, is OSHA’s re-commitment to…

Continue Reading....
A sign warning people about trip hazards

Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection: A Final Update

On November 17, 2016, OSHA issued a final rule updating Walking-Working Surfaces standards and establishing Personal Fall Protection Systems requirements in the general industry category. OSHA uses the term “general industry” to refer to all industries not included in agriculture, construction, or maritime. The rule applies to general Walking-Working Surfaces standards dealing with slip, trip, and fall hazards, and also included a new section addressing Personal Fall Protection Systems standards that requires employers to follow specific requirements for using fall protection. Because falls from…

Continue Reading....
495672652

OSHA Delays Enforcement of Anti-Retaliation Provision Until December 1

OSHA has decided once again to postpone enforcement of the anti-retaliation provision contained in its new injury and illness tracking rule until December 1 in order to allow a federal court time to review a motion challenging the provision. OSHA initially intended to implement the provision on August 10, 2016. At that time, the roll-out was delayed to allow time for outreach to the community the rule affects. The final rule advocates an employee’s right to freely report injuries and illnesses without fear of employer…

Continue Reading....
511669844

Noise Complaints Don’t Fall on Deaf Ears: OSHA Sets Out to End Workplace Noise Exposure and Related Hearing Loss

Recently, OSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health teamed up to compel inventors to develop a solution to workplace noise exposure and corollary hearing loss.  The trifecta endeavors to ameliorate the risk of hearing loss that 22 million workers face every year from workplace noise hazards. Employers are required to implement an effective hearing conservation program whenever worker noise exposure is equal to or greater than 85 dBA for an eight-hour exposure, or 90 dBA in…

Continue Reading....
77931833

Temporary Workers: Staffing Agencies Jointly Liable for OSHA Violations

Concerns employers may use temporary workers as a means to fill hazardous jobs and skirt compliance with OSHA regulations, has led to OSHA holding staffing agencies jointly responsible for safety violations when temporary workers are exposed to unsafe conditions. While the extent of staffing agency responsibilities are fact-specific—based upon the applicable regulations for the particular job and activity—what OSHA has made clear is that staffing agencies and employers are jointly responsible for ensuring OSHA compliance and that temporary workers have a safe place to work.…

Continue Reading....
iStock_000060649530_Medium

OSHA Enforcement Heats Up

OSHA officials have been busy as the weather heats up and spring turned to summer. On May 20, 2016, OSHA cited BC Stucco and Stone, a construction company in Darby, Pennsylvania, for one serious violation and three willful violations. The investigation dated back to November 25, 2015 when an OSHA compliance officer observed an employee working eighteen feet above ground on a scaffold without fall protection. The proposed penalties are $93,000. BS Stucco had also been previously cited on May 2, 2016 at their…

Continue Reading....
495672652

OSHA’s New Reporting Rule Dabbles With Behavioral Economics to Incentivize Workplace Safety

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a new rule that applies behavioral economics to incentivize workplace safety. The new rule requires electronic submission of workplace injury and illness reports in order to better inform workers, employers and the general public about workplace hazards. OSHA representatives remark that such a policy can be analogized to restaurant grading based on sanitation whereby restaurants must comply with kitchen cleanliness guidelines or suffer public disclosure of violations. Similarly, employers must make workplace safety a…

Continue Reading....

A Whistleblower on OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program

Darrell Whitman is a former attorney and professor who became an Office of Whistleblower Protection Programs (OWPP) investigator in 2010. Whitman was a GS-12 Regional Investigator for OWPP, the U.S. Department of Labor, and OSHA. In 2011, Whitman and several other investigators began challenging abuses of power in OWPP’s Region 9 offices in San Francisco. They began voicing their concerns through internal union grievance procedures, and then began raising concerns to the OWPP Director and then Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. The group accused officials…

Continue Reading....
iStock_000087387009_Large

OSHA Announces Sweeping Changes in Final Rule on Silica

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released its final rule on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. This is the first time OSHA has updated this rule since 1971. In updating the rule, OSHA has lowered the permissible exposure limit (PEL), as well as included requirements for exposure assessment, methods for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping. OSHA presents the rule as two standards, one for general industry and maritime and the other for construction. Both standards are scheduled…

Continue Reading....