Inside OSHA

October 19, 2021

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The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has started stakeholder meetings on OSHA’s upcoming emergency temporary standard (ETS) for COVID-19 vaccination, and several industry groups tell Inside OSHA they have used their sessions to raise concerns on implementation and recordkeeping requirements in the rule.

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Whistleblower protection groups are asking OSHA to take new steps to help undocumented workers report safety violations and seek protection from unlawful retaliation following a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo ending immigration agencies’ practice of raiding work site to make mass arrests.

OSHA has sent its hotly-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine emergency temporary standard (ETS) for White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review, signaling the administration could soon enact its mandate for large private-sector employers to set strict vaccination requirements for their workers.

The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is ramping up its calls for OSHA to broaden its process safety management (PSM) standard to cover additional “reactive hazards,” along with a parallel push for EPA to bolster its chemical-safety rules, after a recent investigation blamed the current policies for failing to prevent a fatal hydrogen gas explosion.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is asking stakeholders to weigh in on best practices to alleviate workplace-related stress, mental health conditions and substance abuse for healthcare workers, as the agency gears up to launch a national awareness campaign to reduce stigma around the issue.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has begun a formal review of OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping and reporting rule that will revive Obama-era requirements for employers to submit injury and illness records to the agency, after they were largely rolled back in 2019 by the Trump administration.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is in the final stages of developing a first-of-its-kind, statutorily mandated national registry to monitor cancer exposures among firefighters, but says several hurdles remain in creating a process to protect the data security of program participants.

The country’s largest nurses’ union is calling on OSHA to step up enforcement of its COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) for healthcare, arguing that a recent survey of hospital conditions shows widespread noncompliance with key provisions of the ETS, including on testing and protective gear, in its first month of implementation.

OSHA is rejecting an Inspector General (OIG) report that found silica standard inspections dropped by 50 percent when its long-standing enforcement emphasis program lapsed and recommended policy reforms to avoid such gaps, arguing that it is not “appropriate” for the watchdog office to weigh in on the agency’s enforcement priorities.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has signed into law a bill that employer attorneys say will “vastly” expand California OSHA’s (Cal/OSHA) enforcement authority and hike monetary penalty amounts for regulatory violations, as well as giving the agency new power to seek permanent injunctions against employer operations.

 

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