The Intersection of Workers’ Compensation and OSHA: Look Both Ways Before Crossing

In many ways, workers’ compensation (WC) and the OSHA are very different. WC is a statutory compensation scheme designed to limit an employer’s liability in exchange for more expedient payment of medical expenses, wage replacement, and death benefits. Most of these individual state-based compensation acts were in place long before OSHA. OSHA compliance and related issues are often marshalled by safety professionals and might be considered the pre-accident or injury prevention piece. WC is often comprised of risk management personnel and takes the stage once…
Continue reading...

OSHA Issues Final Rule to Revise Requirements in Safety and Health Standards; Estimated to Save Employer $6.1 Million Per Year

OSHA issued a final rule on May 13, 2019 that revises 14 provisions in the recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction standards. Citing concerns that the previous iteration of the standards were “confusing, outdated, or unnecessary,” OSHA first proposed the changes in October 2016. The revisions were completed as part of OSHA’s Standards Improvement Project, which began in 1995 in response to Presidential Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulations and Regulatory Review.” Prior revisions under the improvement project were issued in 1998, 2005, and 2011. Among…
Continue reading...

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Worker Safety Grants and Social Media Campaign Aimed at Keeping Young Workers Safe

OSHA recently announced the receipt of $10.5 million in Susan Harwood Training Grants. This grant money can be used by employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, Indian tribes, colleges and universities, and for nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based groups. The Harwood Training Grant program supports hands-on training for employers and employees working in industries with high injury, illness, and fatality rates. Additionally, these grants are aimed to aid underserved vulnerable workers, especially temporary workers and those with limited English language proficiency skills. These…
Continue reading...

Required OSHA and Safety Training in NYC Extended … Again

New York City takes its approach to safety for its construction workers seriously. At least that’s the idea. In 2017, New York City Council members approved Local Law 196. It requires that all workers entering a New York City construction site undergo a combination of training courses administered by OSHA – including OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 — or a 100-hour program approved by the New York City Department of Buildings. Initially, all workers were supposed to complete their training by December 2018. However, in…
Continue reading...

As the Weather Warms Employers Must Be Wary of Heat-Related Hazards Early On

OSHA requires that employers provide a workplace free of known safety hazards – this includes protecting workers from heat-related illnesses. Beginning in 2011, heat safety became a focus of OSHA with its Heat Illness Prevention Campaign which includes tailored training, publications, and outreach programs designed to educate employers on the dangers of working in heat. When it comes to preventing heat illness, it is important to think ahead. It is common sense that the risk of heat-related illness becomes greater during the late spring and…
Continue reading...

Process Safety Management and Small Businesses

OSHA has issued a Process Safety Management standard pertaining to Highly Hazardous Chemicals (HHCs), which is contained in 29 CFR 1910.119. The standard identifies the requirements associated with management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals and aims to prevent unwanted and/or unplanned release of HHCs in the workplace. Any company, large or small, involved in on-site storage, handling and/or moving of a HHCs (defined by 29 CFR 1910.119) at or above the threshold quantity set by OSHA must comply. Some examples of small businesses with potential PSM…
Continue reading...

Voluntary Internal Safety Audits: “Do’s” and “Don’ts”

There is no disputing that taking a proactive approach to safety and ensuring compliance within your company is not only prudent – but critical – for employers. It is equally critical, however, that employers understand the benefits and potential liabilities that initiating these measures can create. This post will break down the “dos” and “don’ts” of internal safety audits. First and foremost: as a general rule, you should never engage in a voluntary safety audit if you are not prepared and willing to…
Continue reading...

Whistleblower Protections for Employees Apply Regardless of Immigration Status

OSHA prohibits retaliation against employees for exercising their workplace rights, regardless of the employees’ immigration status. That issue has come up in a recently filed federal lawsuit initiated by the U.S. Department of Labor when an undocumented construction worker was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shortly after reporting a workplace injury and filing a worker’s compensation claim arising from a 2017 accident. Section 11(c) of the OSH Act prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees for exercising their rights under the OSH Act.…
Continue reading...

OSHA Guidelines Address Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Carbon monoxide is known as a silent killer because it lacks any distinct taste or smell. It is the byproduct of combustion and can prove to be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over 400 Americans die each year from accidental poisoning not caused by fires. As such, and as codified under 29 CFR Part 1917.24, testing for carbon monoxide is required along with establishing limits for the concentration of carbon monoxide. Causes of Carbon Monoxide Appliances and tools…
Continue reading...

Refinery Explosion Highlights Importance of Comprehensive Process Hazard Analysis

An explosion at an oil refinery last April in Superior, Wisconsin has led to the refinery being cited with eight serious violations by OSHA and the filing of at least two lawsuits. The explosion and subsequent fire resulted in 36 injuries, including 11 OSHA recordable injuries, and the evacuation of significant portions of the city, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). The CSB concluded that the explosion resulted from the inadvertent mixing of hydrocarbons with air inside the Fluid Catalytic…
Continue reading...