OSHA Issues Emergency Temporary Standard to Protect Healthcare Workers from COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on June 10 it will issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect healthcare workers from contracting coronavirus. The standard focuses on healthcare workers most likely to have contact with someone infected with the virus.

In addition to the healthcare-focused ETS, OSHA is issuing updated guidance to help employers and workers in other industries protect workers who are still not vaccinated, with a special emphasis on other industries noted for prolonged close-contacts like meat processing, manufacturing, seafood and grocery and high-volume retail. The agency also issued a new general industry guidance, and both the guidance and the ETS are aligned with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Too many of our frontline healthcare workers continue to be at high risk of contracting the coronavirus,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “As I said when … Read more...

FY 2022 U.S. Federal Budget Includes $140 Million Additional Funding for MSHA and OSHA Budgets

U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed key investments to strengthen the unemployment insurance system, expand pathways to good-paying jobs, safeguard workers’ health through increases in the MSHA and OSHA budgets and create greater financial security for workers.

The Biden-Harris administration submitted the president’s budget for Fiscal Year 2022 to Congress.

“The president’s budget renews the Department of Labor’s commitment to help America’s workers, particularly those from disadvantaged communities, find pathways to high-quality, good-paying jobs,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “The president’s initiatives also restore the department’s capacity to protect the health, safety, rights and financial security of all workers. Additionally, the American Jobs Plan’s investments further enhance the department’s ability to meet its mission by creating pathways to millions of high-quality jobs and rebuilding our country’s infrastructure.”

The budget includes the two historic plans the president has already put forward – the American Jobs Plan and the American Families … Read more...

Workers Memorial Day 2021: Mourn the Dead, Fight for the Living

Every year on April 28, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) commemorate Workers Memorial Day. Also known as the International Day of Mourning, this is the day we remember and honor the men and women who have lost their lives on the job. Many of these devastating losses were preventable if standards had been followed, appropriate controls existed and if safety and health programs were a priority.

In 2021, the DOL also observes OSHA’s 50th anniversary. Before the 1971 enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the creation of OSHA, many U.S. workers lacked basic protections from workplace hazards. Since then, OSHA and its many partners have helped transform U.S. workplaces and have reduced injuries, illnesses and fatalities significantly.

“Workers Memorial Day reminds us of the sacrifices many workers make to earn their wages and provide for themselves and … Read more...

Expert Predicts OSHA to Focus on Fatality Reduction, Health Initiatives Under Biden

The number of fatal workplace injuries has remained relatively flat for years, while the number of recordable workplace injuries and illnesses has decreased slightly.

A more concerted effort to reduce fatalities and an increased focus on the “health” element in OSHA’s mandate are two directions we can expect the agency to take under its new acting head, Jim Frederick.

These were two of many predictions put forth by longtime health and safety leader Jim Thornton during a recent American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) webinar that looked at what to expect from OSHA under the new Joe Biden administration.

Frederick was announced as the new Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health in January. He previously served as assistant director and principal investigator during a 25-year run with the Health, Safety and Environment Department of the United Steelworkers Union, until he left in 2019. Meanwhile, OSHA’s top position, the … Read more...

Douglas L. Parker Nominated by U.S. President Biden for Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health

As head of Cal-OSHA, California’s workplace safety organization, Douglas Parker was responsible for implementing and enforcing that state’s emergency temporary standard to protect workers from COVID.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Douglas L. Parker for Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, Department of Labor. Parker, as the director of Cal-OSHA, California’s workplace safety agency, directed that state’s efforts to implement an emergency workplace COVID standard. The Biden administration continues to weigh whether or not it should issue an emergency temporary standard that includes Covid-19-related workplace safety regulations.

Parker, of San Francisco, Calif., previously served in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration and was a member of the Biden-Harris transition team focused on worker health and safety issues. He also held positions as a senior policy advisor and special assistant at the Department … Read more...

Don’t Use COVID-19 as Excuse for OSHA Non-Compliance: Legal Experts

When it comes to recordkeeping, the hardest questions employers are grappling with are whether an incident is recordable or not, and whether it is work-related.

Employers who try to use the pandemic as an excuse for non-compliance with OSHA regulations can expect no mercy from the agency and will still face hefty fines and penalties, according to legal experts.

During a recent webinar hosted by the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), Todd Logsdon, partner at Fisher & Phillips LLP, and Barry Spurlock, practicing attorney and associate professor at Eastern Kentucky University, offered these and other insights into common questions they have received around how OSHA regulations may or may not have changed in the new COVID landscape. Here is a summary of their observations on a number of top-of-mind topics.

Training During COVID

Many organizations are wondering how to proceed with required training while operating under the onerous restrictions … Read more...

Expert Connect Explores OSHA under the Biden Administration: Compliance, Enforcement, Collaboration or All Three?

What does OSHA under the Biden administration look like? Read what Scott has to say and learn more from our experts on April 7th’s Expert Connect.

With new leadership at the U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA and the Biden administration signaling a return to more regulatory and compliance oversight, our panel of experts have been invited to explore how enforcement and regulatory action might change and what EHS professionals should be doing to prepare.

Join us on April 7th from 10:00–10:45 am EDT “OSHA under Biden.” Our panelists include Scott Gaddis, Vice President, Global Practice Leader—Safety & Health, Intelex, Travis Vance, Partner, Fisher & Phillips LLP and Jennifer Debias, Director of Business Development – North America, RegScan. Our moderator is Jonna Pedersen, Senior Manager, Customer Success, Intelex.

Scott recently sat down to answer some questions about the OSHA Under Biden session. Here’s what he had to say:… Read more...

OSHA to Ramp Up COVID-19 Enforcement Under Biden: Law Firm

OSHA COVID-19 Rules

Under the new Joe Biden administration, OSHA will take a more aggressive approach to regulation enforcement and will quickly step up measures to combat the effects of COVID-19 in the workplace, according to a health and safety-focused law firm.

Lawyers at Conn Maciel Carey made these and other OSHA-related predictions in a webinar that took stock of the agency’s recent past under the outgoing Donald Trump Republicans and looked ahead to what 2021 will look like under Biden’s Democrats.

During the pandemic, OSHA’s enforcement efforts have tended to concentrate on a select few types of citations, asserted partner Kate McMahon. These have largely been healthcare-oriented, with less emphasis on manufacturing-related wrongdoing. Biden’s OSHA will broaden that scope, both by industry and by citation type, using a few well-known methods at its disposal, she said.

“The general duty clause is an available tool that we think the Biden administration may use … Read more...

President Biden Installs Two Deputy Assistant Secretaries at Workplace Safety and Health Agency to Jump-Start Agenda

Deputy Assistant Secretaries

(Reposted with permission from the GT Alert newsletter from the law firm of Greenberg Traurig.)

On Jan. 19, 2020, the day before President Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, his transition team announced that James Frederick will be appointed deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, a non-Senate confirmed position. In this role, Mr. Frederick will run the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) until President Biden nominates someone for assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health and the Senate confirms the nominee.

Since September 2019, Mr. Frederick has been a part-time consultant for ORC HSE Strategies, LLC, where he provided member employers with, among other things, advice on and assistance with regulatory and legislative matters and assessment and integration of health and safety management systems. Before that, he was assistant director of the Health, Safety & … Read more...

U.S. President Joe Biden Directs OSHA to Explore Temporary Standard to Protect Workers from COVID-19

OSHA Temporary Standard COVID-19

On his first full day in the Oval Office, U.S. President Joe Biden on Jan. 21, 2021 signed a number of executive orders, among them, the Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety.

The order states that “Ensuring the health and safety of workers is a national priority and a moral imperative. Healthcare workers and other essential workers, many of whom are people of color and immigrants, have put their lives on the line during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It is the policy of my Administration to protect the health and safety of workers from COVID-19.”

The National Safety Council (NSC) issued a statement saying it applauded President Biden for the executive order directing OSHA to determine whether an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is necessary to protect workers from exposure to COVID-19.

“In the last 10 months, employers have operated without a national guideline that provides a uniform level … Read more...