Contractor Watchdog Releases Audit List. Late last week, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released its new Corporate Scheduling Announcement List (CSAL) for federal contractors. According to OFCCP, the CSAL is “a courtesy notification to contractors selected to undergo a compliance evaluation.” Reflecting recent comments made by both Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh and OFCCP Director Jenny Yang, the list targets for investigation “a large proportion of industries expected to receive significant federal investments for infrastructure and economic recovery.” Significantly, pursuant to Directive 2022-02, OFCCP will no longer provide contractors with a 45-day grace period prior to scheduling reviews. Instead, OFCCP may begin scheduling reviews immediately following issuance of the CSAL.
House Committee Examines OSHA Policies. On May 25, 2022, the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee heard testimony from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker on the workplace safety agency’s policies and fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request. Below are some key takeaways from the hearing.
- COVID-19. At least one Democrat needled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for not doing more to combat COVID-19 by issuing a more timely and expansive emergency temporary standard, while Republicans criticized OSHA’s vaccine-or-test emergency temporary standard as an overreach that threatened to topple an uneasy economy. In response, Parker stated, “We don’t have any plans to move forward with a vaccine and testing rule,” but the agency believes it is important to have a permanent healthcare standard in place by the fall.
- Infectious disease. In his written testimony, Parker wrote that OSHA is “looking ahead to ensure workers in the highest-risk workplaces are protected against future infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics. Those efforts include developing an infectious disease standard to ensure health care workers are protected in future pandemics and developing infectious disease preparedness training so all workplaces can be more prepared.”
- Heat standard. In response to a question about the timing of a potential heat standard, Parker responded that it would be “challenging” to promulgate such a standard by the spring of 2024.
- Workplace violence. Parker’s written testimony noted that OSHA was “also advancing a standard to protect health care workers from the epidemic of workplace violence.” During the hearing, Parker stated that the agency plans on convening Small Business Advocacy Review Panels this fall, but that there is no timeline regarding issuance of a proposed rule on the topic.
- Construction industry in the spotlight. Parker’s written testimony stated, “In light of increased infrastructure activity and investment spurred by passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, OSHA is continuing to focus on construction sites. Since the beginning of the Biden Administration, OSHA has conducted approximately 17,000 construction inspections and issued approximately $138 million in penalties.”
- Enforcement. Regarding enforcement, Parker wrote, “OSHA is increasing its inspection and enforcement activity from recent lows. We are bringing more cases with enhanced penalties where it is warranted by employer conduct. And we will continue to evaluate how we can use all the tools available to us, including criminal and other enhanced judicial relief, for those employers who disregard safety and put workers at risk.”
OSHA Extends Reg. Proposals’ Comment Periods. Speaking of OSHA standards, this week the workplace safety agency extended the comment periods for two current proposals:
- Injury and illness reporting. Comments on OSHA’s proposal to require covered employers to electronically submit workplace injury and illness data to OSHA were originally due by May 31, 2022. This week, OSHA announced that, as a result of a request by the AFL-CIO, the deadline would be extended by 30 days, to June 30, 2022. According to OSHA’s announcement, “The AFL-CIO’s request explains that the agency has multiple deadlines within a one-week period, and the AFL-CIO wishes to have time to meaningfully respond to the important issues in both this notice and the several other requests for comment by OSHA.”
- Arizona state plan. OSHA also extended the comment deadline on its proposal to revoke its approval of Arizona’s occupational safety and health plan. On April 20, 2022, OSHA announced that it “has grown increasingly concerned that actions by the Arizona State OSHA Plan suggest the state is either unable or unwilling to maintain its commitment to provide a program for worker safety and health protection as the [Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970] requires.” Comments were due by May 26, 2022, but will now be due by July 5, 2022.
EEOC Nominee Stalled … for Now. The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions deadlocked 11–11 on a vote to approve President Biden’s first nominee to be a member of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Kalpana Kotagal. The tie vote means that the U.S. Senate will have to vote as a whole to advance Kotagal’s nomination out of committee. If confirmed, Kotagal will presumably be appointed and sworn in to replace Commissioner Janet Dhillon as soon as her term expires on July 1, 2022.
Remembering Congressman Saund. During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Buzz takes a moment to remember Dalip Singh Saund, who represented California’s 29th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1957 to 1963. Saund was born in 1899 in what is now Chhajjalwaddi, India. After graduating from the University of Punjab in 1919, Saund immigrated to the United States, where he obtained a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley. Saund eventually became an alfalfa farmer and a fertilizer manufacturer, even though California’s Alien Land Law (invalidated by the Supreme Court of California in 1952) prohibited Asian immigrants from owning or leasing land. (Saund’s friend put the property in his name.) During this time, Saund fought for passage of the Luce–Celler Act of 1946, which allowed Indian nationals to become U.S. citizens, and he became a citizen himself in 1949.
Saund’s life in politics began when he was elected to a local judgeship in 1952. He then ran for Congress in 1956, beating back racist attacks from his Democratic primary opponent and eventually prevailing over the Republican candidate—a decorated World War II Army pilot named Jacqueline Cochran Odlum. (Due to the unique backgrounds of the candidates, the race garnered national attention.) Saund was the first Asian American, the first Indian American, and the first Sikh American to serve in Congress. He was elected to two more terms, before a stroke ended his political career in 1962. Thank you, Congressman Saund.