Employee Activism, Safety, and Support Amid Difficult Issues

Recent social and political controversies, such as rulings from the Supreme Court of the United States, international conflicts, and mass shootings, are likely to cause more employees to voice their opinions and frustrations both in and outside the workplace, whether through conversations, social media, or participation in marches, protests, and similar events.

California Department of Public Health Issues COVID-19 Guidance on Expanded Definition of ‘Close Contact’

On June 20, 2022, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued COVID-19 guidance, titled “Isolation and Quarantine Q&A,” that offers insight into the recent change to the definition of “close contact.” On June 8, 2022, the CDPH issued a revised order with new definitions of “close contact” and “infectious period.” Because the June 8 order was an “order of the CDPH,” these revised definitions were immediately incorporated into the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) requirements for exclusion of close contacts, which in turn impacted employers’ obligations under the ETS.

Eleventh Circuit Limits Reach of OSHA’s ‘HazWoper’ Standard

On June 15, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a decision limiting the reach of the emergency response provisions of 29 C.F.R. § 1910.120, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard—the so-called “HazWoper” (or “HAZWOPER”) standard.

OSHA Reminds Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas Employers to Protect Workers From Heat-Related Illness

High temperatures in the Southwestern United States have and continue to break records. In Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, the heat index could reach triple digits and in some cases exceed 110°F. These elevated temperatures pose a serious risk to employees exposed to heat due to the nature of their jobs. As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is aggressively enforcing its national and regional programs aimed at preventing heat-related illnesses and fatalities.

CDPH Issues Updated Order Drastically Changing Employers’ Obligations Under Cal/OSHA COVID-19 ETS

Currently, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) requires employers to review and use current California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance for persons who had close contact to an individual with COVID-19, including any guidance regarding quarantine or other measures after a close contact to reduce COVID-19 transmission. On June 8, 2022, the CDPH issued a revised order with new definitions. These revised definitions are therefore immediately incorporated in to the Cal/OSHA ETS requirements for exclusion of close contacts, which in turn impact employers’ obligations under the ETS.

What Does S.B. 215, Ohio’s New Firearms Law, Mean for Employers?

Currently, in the state of Ohio, in order to obtain a concealed handgun license, which is valid for five years, an Ohio resident must submit an application to the county sheriff, pay an initial $67 fee, pass a background check, and meet the minimum educational requirements, which include completing eight hours of training (at least two of which must be in-person training) and passing a written test.

As Washington’s Summer Approaches, Employers Face New Rules to Protect Workers From Outdoor Heat Exposure and Wildfire Smoke

With summer weather and wildfire season approaching, Washington employers will have new seasonal workplace safety rules to take into account. On June 1, 2022, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) adopted emergency rules that add to already existing protections for outdoor workers from the summer conditions of heat exposure and wildfire smoke.

OSHA Launches National Emphasis Program to Expand on Heat Illness Prevention Campaign

With summer fast approaching, OSHA has ramped up investigations into heat-related injuries in the workplace. In furtherance of President Biden’s heat illness initiative, on October 27, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking regarding a future standard requiring employers to prevent heat-related illness.

Cal/OSHA Updates COVID-19 ETS FAQs and Issues Fact Sheet for California Employers

On May 7, 2022, the day after the latest revision to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) went into effect, Cal/OSHA issued updated answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) and a fact sheet. The FAQs continue to evolve and change with each revision and readoption of the ETS. The FAQs now reflect the updated definitions, processes, and changes to the quarantine requirements for close contacts.

Cal/OSHA’s Third Revision to COVID-19 ETS to Be Approved by May 6, 2022

As we previously reported, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board recently voted to adopt the proposed revisions to California’s COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (ETS). Reports initially stated that the Office of Administrative Law would likely approve the language for implementation by May 5, 2022. This date has since changed to May 6, 2022.

Cal/OSHA Standards Board Adopts Third COVID-19 ETS to Remain in Effect Until December 31, 2022

On April 21, 2022, by a 6-1 vote, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to adopt the proposed revisions to the current COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (ETS). The only no vote was from a management representative. The Office of Administrative Law is likely to approve the new language for implementation by May 5, 2022.

Federal Court Enjoins Enforcement of Montana Law That Conflicts With CMS Vaccine Rule

On March 18, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana issued a preliminary injunction in Montana Medical Association v. Knudsen, enjoining enforcement of part of Montana’s vaccination law against “all Montana health care facilities and individual practitioners and clinics” subject to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

California’s AB 2243 Would Revise Heat Illness and Wildfire Smoke Standards

On February 10, 2022, California Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, along with assembly members Luz Rivas and Robert Rivas, introduced Assembly Bill (AB) No. 2243, which would place a number of requirements on the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) in the areas of heat illness and wildfire smoke.

New York City Private Employer Vaccination Mandate Remains, but Exemptions Expanded for Athletes and Performing Artists

On March 24, 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed Emergency Executive Order No. 62, which expands an exemption to New York’s vaccination order for private-sector workers to include athletes and performing artists who reside in New York City. The executive order takes effect immediately.

Ontario’s Bill 88 Would Establish Electronic Monitoring Policies, Create Rights for Workers on Digital Platforms, and Require Naloxone Kits

On February 28, 2022, the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 88, the Working for Workers Act, 2022. Bill 88 would enact the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022, which would establish rights for workers who offer services through digital platforms. In addition, Bill 88 would amend a number of statutes including the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

OSHA Announces Intent to Focus Inspections in Healthcare Facilities With Attention on COVID-19 Healthcare ETS

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) remains focused on the pandemic in certain workplaces as indicated by its announcement of a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) related to COVID-19. Interestingly, the focus of the NEP includes checking to confirm that certain elements of the COVID-19 healthcare emergency temporary standard (ETS) are in place.

Indiana Approves Restrictions on Employer Vaccine Mandates: What Employers Need to Know

On March 3, 2022, the Indiana General Assembly passed House Bill 1001, which restricts employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The final version of the bill was signed right away by Governor Eric Holcomb and is effective immediately. The law’s most notable provisions require covered employers to accept (under certain conditions) medical, religious, and acquired immunity exemptions from vaccine mandates, and to allow employees with exemptions to submit to COVID-19 testing in lieu of immunization.

California Governor Newsom Aligns Cal/OSHA Face Covering Regulations With CDPH Guidance

On February 28, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that updates the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) to align with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance on face coverings for indoor locations issued the same day.

California Unmasks—California Department of Public Health Revises Guidance for Use of Face Masks in Indoor Settings

On February 28, 2022, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new guidance, further loosening the rules for wearing COVID-19–related masks in the state. Effective March 1, 2022, unvaccinated individuals are no longer required to mask in indoor public settings, although the CDPH included “a strong recommendation” that all individuals, “regardless of vaccine status, continue indoor masking.”

Los Angeles County and City COVID-19 Masking Orders Move Closer to California Department of Public Health Rules

On February 23, 2022, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) issued an order, effective February 25, 2022, that slightly loosened the rules for wearing COVID-19 masks in the county. One day after the LACDPH order, on February 24, 2022, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued the interim “Public Order Under City of Los Angeles Emergency Authority” that mirrored the new Los Angeles County order. While these revisions make the orders from both the county and city much more similar to the California state masking rules currently in effect, they remain stricter than the current state rules.

Minnesota Extends Workers’ Compensation Presumption for Frontline Workers Who Test Positive for COVID-19

On February 4, 2022, Governor Tim Walz signed House File (H.F.) 1203 into law, which extends the presumption that certain frontline healthcare workers contracted COVID-19 at work if they test positive. The prior presumption had expired on December 31, 2021.