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.…
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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…
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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…
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Passing the Buck: How Employers in New York State can Escape Liability in Occupational Hearing Loss Claims

It’s an all too common tale for many construction companies doing business in New York state. A unionized worker shows up on one of their job sites. Although the worker has been in the trade for decades, it’s the first time that the company has employed them. The worker is only on the job for a short time frame and subsequently retires. The worker, who began developing occupational hearing loss secondary to exposure to industrial noise decades ago, files a claim for workers’ compensation and…
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OSHA Further Delays Deadline Regarding Crane Operator Certification to 2018

On November 9, 2017, OSHA published a Final Rule further extending by one year the employer duty to ensure the competency of crane operators involved in construction work. Previously, this duty was scheduled to terminate on November 10, 2017, but is now extended to November 10, 2018. OSHA is also further extending the deadline for crane operator certification for one year to November 10, 2018. According to the OSHA press release, the extensions are necessary to provide sufficient time for it to complete related…
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OSHA and The Trump Administration: The First 200 Days

Any new presidential administration is likely to bring a new philosophy, vision, and focus to a variety of issues—including workplace safety and health. More than 200 days into the Trump presidency, we take a look below at some of the top developments in OSHA thus far in 2017. OSHA’s Volks Rule Overturned 
The Volks rule—formally the “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness”—was issued on December 19, 2016, during the final days of the…
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Congress Overturns OSHA Recordkeeping Rule

On March 1, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution of disapproval, under the Congressional Review Act, to block OSHA’s “Volks” rule. On March 22, 2017, the Senate followed suit and voted to overturn the rule. Now, the resolution will be forwarded to President Trump to sign, which is expected to occur. The Volks rule—formally the “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness” rule—was issued on December 19, 2016, during the final…
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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…
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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…
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OSHA Mandates That Certain Employers Report Accidents Electronically

Effective January 1, 2017, OSHA requires that establishments with 20 to 249 employees in certain high-risk industries, including construction, manufacturing and building material and supplies dealers, submit their injury and illness summary (Form 300A) data to it electronically. Their 2016 Form 300A must be submitted by July 1, 2017 and their 2017 Form 300A must be submitted by July 1, 2018. Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the record keeping regulation also must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by…
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