Category Archives: OSHA News

The Beryllium Equilibrium: OSHA Schedules Public Hearing on Proposed Rule Intended to Significantly Limit Worker Exposure to Beryllium

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration scheduled a hearing on February 29, 2016 in Washington D.C. to discuss its proposed rule governing occupational exposure limits for beryllium and beryllium compounds.  The proposed rule, which was published on August 7, 2015, would significantly lower workplace exposure to the chemical. OSHA’s present standard permits worker beryllium exposure to 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air over eight hours.  This standard was initially implemented by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1948 and later adopted by OSHA in 1971. …

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Groundbreaking OSHA Developments in 2015 to Directly Impact 2016 — and Beyond

As is often the case, the year’s end signals an opportunity to look back and reflect on significant developments that have occurred, to turn one’s attention forward – and to think ahead. This annual focus can relate to almost anything, including politics, entertainment, your health, your family, and yes – even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Now that 2016 is in full swing, we can see that 2015 was a groundbreaking year for OSHA. During that time, OSHA unveiled significant changes to some…

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OSHA Teams Up with Department of Justice to Utilize Criminal Prosecution to Protect Worker Safety

The United State Department of Justice and the United States Department of Labor have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to provide for the coordination of matters pertaining to worker safety that could lead to criminal prosecution by the Department of Justice. Under the Memorandum, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will work with OSHA, Mine Safety (MSHA), and Wage and Hour Division to investigate and prosecute worker endangerment violations. Over a year ago, the Departments of Justice and Labor began meeting to explore a joint effort…

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OSHA Upping the Ante

Employers, get ready. Recent developments show that OSHA will step up its campaign of workplace investigations with measures that pursue an even greater degree of influence on you. In my recent article, “OSHA Ups the Ante in U.S. Workplaces,” I examined the impact on employers of the likely astronomical leap in monetary penalties coming soon to recipients of OSHA violations, the “name and shame” approach taken by the agency against violators, and a new enforcement weighting system — along with practical steps employers…

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OSHA Brings Sharper Focus to Battling Occupational Lung Disease

Construction workers, coal miners, foundry workers, and stone cutters inhale tiny bits of dust on a daily basis. The dust penetrates their lungs and over time their lungs scar over. This results in a broad range of health issues, including silicosis, pneumoconiosis (black lung), chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer. It may be decades before the effects of the dust inhalation are felt, but the U.S. Department of Labor is working to change that. The U.S. Department of Labor is making progress toward reducing and…

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Whistle While You Work: OSHA Draft Policy Seeks to Prevent Retaliation for Employees Reporting Safety Concerns

On November 6, 2015, OSHA issued a draft policy entitled “Protecting Whistleblowers: Recommended Practices for Employers for Preventing and Addressing Retaliation,” for which it informally seeks public comment through January 19, 2016. The draft policy seeks to facilitate an environment in which employees can freely raise OSHA concerns without the fear of employer retaliation. This whistleblower protection policy specifically focuses on improving safety incentive programs that employers could use in a retaliatory manner against workers who raise such concerns. In its endeavor to create a…

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OSHA Launches Regional Emphasis Program in Southern States Aimed at Protecting Poultry Workers

In view of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries and six times more likely to get sick on the job than other private sector workers, OSHA launched a new Regional Emphasis Program last week to reduce musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomic stressors affecting industry workers. The targeted states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas – states that include some of the country’s largest poultry producers. OSHA’s emphasis program will include an initial…

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OSHA Releases Updated Training Handbook For Employers

Since its inception, OSHA’s mission has been to protect workers and prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. OSHA’s standards not only regulate workplace conditions, but also dictate the necessary training requirements employers must provide their employees.  These training requirements further OSHA’s philosophy that in order for employees to stay safe, they must have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their work. Employers are therefore charged with providing essential training as part of their safety programs. In furtherance of assisting employers with this task, OSHA…

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School’s Open – Work Carefully

It’s that time of year again. Much to the dismay of kids (and relief of parents) everywhere, school is back in session. The familiar sign “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” can now be seen on cars and buses all over the road. With the focus on the new school year, OSHA wants to help ensure that students with after-school and weekend jobs also “work carefully.” OSHA has therefore launched a new initiative which focuses on protecting young workers across the country – and is providing…

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Maine Joins New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois as Newest State Plan Protecting State and Local Employees

OSHA recently approved Maine as the newest State Plan responsible for protecting the safety and health of state and local government employees. Under the approved plan, the Maine Department of Labor is designated as the state agency responsible for the development and enforcement of occupational safety and health standards applicable to state and local government employment throughout the state. OSHA retains full authority for coverage of private sector  employees in the State of Maine, as well as for coverage of federal government employees. Maine joins…

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