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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OSHA Offers Free On-Site Consultations to Improve Workplace Safety

Through its On-Site Consultation program, OSHA wants to help small to medium-sized businesses improve and maintain workplace safety standards. In most cases, OSHA representatives will travel directly to your workplace and conduct a detailed inspection. The OSHA representative will identify potential hazards, discuss potential solutions, and review and improve injury prevention programs. This free service is confidential and operates separately from OSHA’s inspection  branch. Neither identifying information nor discovered hazards will be routinely reported to OSHA inspection staff. Additionally, no citations are issued during the…
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OSHA’s Guide To Restroom Access for Transgender Workers

OSHA’s recent publication of its Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers (“Guide”) further forged OSHA’s foray into the spotlight of the hotly prolific LBGT rights discussion. The Guide, which aims to assure that employers provide a safe and healthful working environment for all employees, underscores the principle that “all employees should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity,” according to Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. Under OSHA’s Sanitation Standard (1910.141), employers are required…
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OSHA Rule Regarding Confined Spaces “Hooked” In Texas

Recently, the Texas Association of Builders (“TAB”) filed a petition in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking a review of a newly finalized OSHA rule, which was aimed at reducing confined space risks in construction activities.  The TAB petition potentially hinders the rule’s implementation, delaying years’ worth of the rule’s development by the Bush and Obama Administrations. Specifically, the OSHA final rule conforms construction safety standards with OSHA’s existing confined space regulations for general industry, but contains additional provisions.  For example, the new rule…
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