Inside OSHA

May 8, 2021

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As the White House continues to weigh OSHA’s emergency temporary standard (ETS) for COVID-19, several states are adapting their emergency pandemic rules for long-term use, including moves by California regulators to loosen requirements for vaccinated workers and by Oregon to retain that state’s once-temporary standard indefinitely.

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The Department of Labor (DOL) is touting a new ruling from an administrative law judge (ALJ) upholding OSHA’s citation against a Florida healthcare center finding managers “exposed workers to more than 50 attacks” from residents, shortly after the House passed a bill to mandate a new workplace violence standard.

OSHA has issued interim enforcement guidance for revisions the Trump administration made last year to the agency’s beryllium standards, detailing procedures to guide compliance officers’ site inspections and citations for alleged violations of the revised policies for general industry worksites, shipyards and construction sites.

OSHA appears to be readying a request for information to inform a first-time update to its 1971 safety standard for mechanical power presses, after the agency first announced that it was planning to rework the policy during the George W. Bush administration but took no concrete steps toward a new version for almost 14 years.

OSHA is touting a proposed $265,265 penalty against the discount retail chain Dollar Tree as highlighting the latest in a long string of violations by a company with “a history of not taking the safety of its workers and customers seriously,” the latest sign that the agency has dropped a Trump-era ban on “regulation by shaming.”

President Joe Biden has named three nominees to the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) including a former United Auto Workers (UAW) safety official, after labor and industry groups as well as the body’s own inspector general warned that CSB cannot continue to operate with a single member.

OSHA is marking the 50th anniversary of its 1971 founding by touting its imminent emergency temporary standard (ETS) for COVID-19 and its plans to boost enforcement related to the pandemic, while Democratic lawmakers are using the occasion to ready their latest push to overhaul and tighten the OSH Act.

OSHA has sent its COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) rule for White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review, more than six weeks after President Joe Biden’s deadline for the ETS that observers expect will take effect within weeks and could include tiered mandates for specific industries.

Congress is stepping up its focus on the Biden administration’s worker protection policies, with senators advancing the nomination of Julie Su to be Deputy Labor Secretary while members of a key House subcommittee plan a hearing on OSHA’s development of an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for COVID-19.

OSHA says employees’ negative reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are “work-related” and thus subject to recordkeeping and reporting mandates if an employer “requires” the vaccination, a definition the agency says it will read broadly to include any workplace where unvaccinated workers face “adverse action.”

 

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