COVID-19: FAQs on Federal Labor and Employment Laws

The recent spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States has caused employers to be increasingly concerned and uncertain regarding the future of their workforces. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the latest developments on the virus and guidance from federal agencies.

COVID-19: FAQs on Federal Labor and Employment Laws

The recent spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States has caused employers to be increasingly concerned and uncertain regarding the future of their workforces. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the latest developments on the virus and guidance from federal agencies.

OSHA Allows Healthcare Employers to Suspend N95 Annual Fit-Testing During Coronavirus “Outbreak”

On March 14, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued temporary enforcement guidance addressing the fit-testing requirements in the agency’s respiratory protection standard (29 C.F.R. § 1910.134). The guidance applies to healthcare workers using N95 respirators to protect them from the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

OSHA Anticipates More Changes to the Electronic Recordkeeping Rule: What Does It Mean for Employers?

The Trump administration continues to look for ways to lessen the regulatory burden on employers. As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) electronic recordkeeping regulation continues to be whittled down. OSHA’s latest Regulatory Agenda sets out new changes to the already beleaguered rule. Specifically, OSHA intends to propose to amend the Electronic Recordkeeping rule to eliminate the requirement that establishments with 250 or more employees submit OSHA 300 Logs and 301 forms. Instead, two types of establishments would continue to submit 300A summary forms: (1) establishments of 250 or more employees; and (2) establishments with between 20 and 249 employees in the high-hazard industries listed in Appendix A to the regulation.

How to Survive the Dog Days of Summer: OSHA’s Yearly Heat Campaign Sizzles

On June 26, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the return of its heat illness prevention campaign: “Water. Rest. Shade.” As part of the seventh annual heat illness prevention campaign, OSHA’s website outlines the dangers of working in heat, employers’ responsibilities, and additional resources.

Could Your OSHA 300 Logs Lead to a Chemical National Emphasis Program Inspection?

An appeal pending before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (U.S. v. Mar-Jac Poultry, Inc., No. 16-17745, 11th Cir.) reveals a novel approach the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is taking to expand inspections resulting from reported injuries or complaints into wall-to-wall inspections conducted under national, regional, and local emphasis programs targeting specific hazards or industries.

Court Denies Temporary Injunction on OSHA’s Electronic Reporting Regulation

On November 28, 2016, a federal district judge rejected several industry groups’ attempt to halt certain aspects of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule. In particular, the groups were targeting the new “anti-retaliation” provisions under 29 C.F.R. Sections 1904.35 and 1904.36, which would effectively prohibit employers from utilizing certain safety incentive programs and mandatory post-accident drug testing policies.

OSHA Clarifies Limits on Post-Accident Drug Testing and Safety Incentive Programs

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released a memorandum explaining “in more detail” two provisions added to the recordkeeping regulation: Section 1904.35(b)(1)(i) requiring “employers to have a reasonable procedure for employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses”; and Section 1904.35(b)(1)(iv) prohibiting retaliation for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses.

OSHA Pushes Back Enforcement Date for Anti-Retaliation Provisions Again

The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) again delayed enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions included in the revised recordkeeping regulation, 29 CFR Part 1904, until December 1, 2016. OSHA delayed enforcement at the request of Northern District of Texas Judge Sam Lindsay. Judge Lindsay is considering the complaint and motion for preliminary injunction filed by several industry groups challenging the anti-retaliation provisions to the extent that OSHA seeks to limit routine post-accident drug testing and incident-based safety incentive and recognition plans.

OSHA Issues New Electronic Recordkeeping Requirements and Creates a New Cause of Action for Employees

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has amended its recordkeeping regulation, 29 CFR Part 1904, to require many employers to submit OSHA 300 Logs, OSHA 301 forms, and OSHA 300A summaries to the agency electronically. The amendments, which will be published in the Federal Register on May 12, also include provisions designed to prevent employers from retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. To abate alleged violations of these provisions, OSHA may order employers to reinstate employees or pay them back pay. The changes will allow OSHA and other stakeholders—including labor unions and plaintiffs’ attorneys—to access injury and illness data and also create a new cause of action for employees who claim their employer retaliated against them for reporting a work-related injury or illness.

OSHA Ups the Ante for Employers That Fail to Report Workplace Injuries

On March 4, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new procedures for enforcing revised injury and illness reporting requirements in 29 C.F.R. § 1904.39. Many of the 2014 interim procedures remain unchanged, but now employers will face a minimum penalty of $5,000 for failing to report. The new procedures also include a so-called “safe harbor” provision that OSHA claims will prevent the agency from using root cause reports that employers submit as the basis for citations.

OSHA’s Delay in Launching Its Web Portal Raises Concerns for the Proposed Recordkeeping Rule

At the start of 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) made several changes to its regulations requiring employers to report certain work-related injuries and illnesses. Under the previous rule, employers had to report all work-related fatalities, as well as hospitalizations of three or more employees, within eight hours. With the new changes, in addition to reporting fatalities within eight hours, employers must report all work-related hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours.

OSHA’s Latest Regulatory Agenda: Silica, Tree Care, Powered Industrial Trucks, Lockout/Tagout . . . and Much More

The U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released its Fall 2015 Regulatory Agenda, its semi-annual status report of all regulatory actions underway or being contemplated by the DOL’s agencies. Included in the agenda were the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) announcement that many of its standards nearing final rule status, such as Silica and Walking Working Surfaces, will have delayed deadlines. A few new surprises were included in the agenda, such as OSHA’s announcement to begin rulemaking on new standards for Tree Care, Powered Industrial Trucks, and Revocation of Obsolete Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs).

Get Ready for Monday-Morning Quarterbacking: OSHA Releases Compliance Guidance and Will Soon Finalize Electronic Recordkeeping Proposal

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently sent its proposal to amend the recordkeeping regulation, 29 CFR Part 1904, to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)—a necessary step in the process of finalizing the proposal. OSHA proposes requiring some employers to submit injury and illness data electronically.

President Obama Signs the 2015 Budget Act Increasing OSHA Penalties

President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 into law yesterday. The deal was negotiated quickly to avoid a default on the nation’s debt. Perhaps as a result, it includes a surprise for those with an interest in occupational safety and health: penalties imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are increasing.

OSHA’s New Reporting Rules Are in Effect—What Will OSHA Do With the Data?

On January 1, 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) revised regulation for reporting work-related injuries went into effect. Employers are now required to report fatalities as well as the following types of incidents: In-patient hospitalizations of one or more employees as a result of work-related incidents must be reported…..

Electronic Recordkeeping: OSHA Manages to Make a Bad Proposal Even Worse

In November 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed regulations requiring employers to submit injury and illness data electronically, rather than maintain paper OSHA Form 300 logs of work-related injuries and illnesses and Form 301 injury and illness incident reports. The proposal raised many concerns for employers. Perhaps…..

OSHA and the NLRB Offer Safety Whistleblower Plaintiffs a Second Bite of the Apple by Resurrecting Untimely Whistleblower Claims

In our last Workplace Safety & Health blog post, we discussed proactive steps employers can take should the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) arrive with a union representative or community activist to inspect a nonunion worksite. On May 21, OSHA increased its emphasis on  promoting employee rights to union…..

How to Be Prepared if a Non-Employee Union Agent Shows Up with OSHA at an Inspection

As we discussed in a previous post, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an interpretation letter last year stating that non-employee union organizers or community activists could “represent” employees at non-union workplaces during OSHA inspections. OSHA’s interpretation letter caused quite a stir in the employer community, and it…..

OSHA Signals an Increased Focus on Hospital Industry

On January 15, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a new, online compliance assistance tool for hospitals called, “Worker Safety in Hospitals: Caring for our Caregivers.” While OSHA’s stated objective for this resource is commendable—to help hospitals enhance worker safety—the information includes some…..

Safety First—What OSHA’s Newest Interpretation Means for Employers of Temporary Workers

On April 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a memorandum to regional administrators regarding the obligation of employers to protect temporary workers from workplace hazards. The memorandum reports a recent uptick in fatal injuries involving temporary workers, and reiterates the need for…..

Non-Union Employees at Worksite Safety Inspections Contradicts OSHA Regulation and Creates Host of Issues for Employers

With private sector union density steadily declining, unions will take help anywhere they can get it. The most recent case in point: the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued an interpretation letter on February 21, 2013, stating that non-union employees can select anyone—including outside, non-employee union representatives—to accompany OSHA…..