Author Archives: OSHA: Legal Developments and Defense Strategies

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…

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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…

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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…

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Looking Beyond OSHA for Fall Safety Resources

As OSHA gears up for its yearly National Safety Stand Down to prevent falls in the construction industry, one can expect there to be an increase in available fall related information and resources. With each year’s initiative, OSHA provides substantial guidance for both employers and employees regarding safe practices and fall prevention. While one of the best places to find information on fall safety and OSHA compliance is through OSHA itself, there are many other resources that are just as accessible and may be of…

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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 Provides Retailers With Crowd Management Safety Guidelines During Holiday Season

The Holiday Season is definitely upon us. Thanksgiving is only hours away. And while many of us make our last minute preparations for that big turkey dinner and the inevitable tryptophan-induced nap in front of the television, retailers are preparing themselves for one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Black Friday, almost a national holiday unto itself, draws some of the biggest shopping crowds of the year. Many retailers open their doors as early as Thanksgiving night and can still count on a…

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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 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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