Conn Maciel Carey LLP Expands Midwest Workplace Safety Practice With Addition of OSHA Defense Attorney Anthony Casaletta – a Former Michigan OSHA Official

Detroit, MI (September 29, 2022) – Conn Maciel Carey LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based boutique law firm with a national focus on OSHA/MSHA • Workplace Safety and Labor & Employment, is pleased to announce that Anthony Casaletta has become an Of Counsel attorney with the firm.

Mr. Casaletta, an OSHA defense attorney, is based in the Detroit area in Michigan, where he counsels and defends employers in a wide range of workplace health and safety matters conducted by Federal OSHA and State OSH Plans, including particularly, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“MIOSHA”). He also supports employers in all aspects of OSHA and MIOSHA enforcement, from managing on-site inspections and investigations, to litigating contested citations through ALJ hearings and appeals, and counseling on compliance with OSHA rules and standards.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to join Conn Maciel Carey’s deep bench of talented attorneys,” said Mr. Casaletta. “I was drawn to the firm by their stellar reputation as go-to legal advisors for OSHA workplace safety matters. I look forward to collaborating with the team on industrial hygiene, safety, and all manner of OSHA regulatory matters.”

Prior to entering private practice as an OSHA defense attorney, Mr. Casaletta spent 18 years with Michigan OSHA (“MIOSHA”) in various roles, Continue reading

Process Safety Update: The Latest on EPA’s RMP and OSHA’s PSM Rulemakings

By Eric J. Conn, Micah Smith, and Beeta Lashkari

EPA RMP Public Hearing

This week, on September 26-28, 2022, EPA has been hosting virtual public hearings related to its Risk Management Program (RMP) rulemaking.  Specifically, the hearings are addressing the RMP Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention (SCCAP) proposed rule, which was signed by EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan on August 18, 2022, and proposes revisions to the RMP Rule to further protect vulnerable communities from chemical accidents, especially those living near facilities with high accident rates.  Per the EPA, “The proposed rule would strengthen the existing program and includes new safeguards that have not been addressed in prior RMP rules.”

The virtual public hearings will provide the opportunity to present information, comments or views pertaining to the SCCAP proposed rule.  In addition, EPA is accepting written comments during the public comment period, which closes on October 31, 2022.

For background, the RMP Rule has had a long and tortured rulemaking and litigation history.  EPA amended the RMP Rule on January 13, 2017, in the final days of the Obama Administration, following President Obama’s Executive Order (EO) 13650, “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security,” which directed EPA and other federal agencies to modernize policies, regulations, and standards to enhance safety and security in chemical facilities.  More details on the EO in the “OSHA PSM Stakeholder Meeting” section below.

EPA then received three petitions for reconsideration of the 2017 rule, and in December 2019, EPA issued a final rule reconsidering the changes made in January 2017.  There are petitions for judicial review of both the 2017 amendments and the 2019 reconsideration rules.  Specifically, the 2019 reconsideration rule challenges are being held in abeyance until October 3, 2022, by which time the parties must submit motions to govern, and the case against the 2017 amendments rule is in abeyance pending resolution of the 2019 reconsideration rule case.

So far as the SCCAP proposed rule is concerned, EPA issued a Continue reading

OSHA’s Recordkeeping, Reporting, and E-Recordkeeping Rules [Webinar Recording]

On September 13, 2022, Lindsay A. DiSalvo and Ashley D. Mitchell presented a webinar regarding Important Nuances of OSHA’s Recordkeeping, Reporting, and E-Recordkeeping Rules.

Although OSHA’s injury and illness recordkeeping and reporting rules may seem clear on their face, there are many nuances in the applicable standards that can create challenges to accurately making and maintaining those required records and reports. And the accuracy of injury and illness records could be becoming even more essential in light of the changes OSHA has proposed to the current e-recordkeeping rule, which would increase the availability and use of injury and illness data.

Already, e-recordkeeping data is collected by OSHA and used in developing and executing its Site-Specific Targeting (“SST”) Program based on an employer’s 300A Summary. Per the changes proposed in the current rulemaking effort, OSHA intends to expand who is required to submit recordkeeping data, what data is collected, and what data is shared with the public. This would result in more employers’ injury and illness data being under the microscope and incorporated into OSHA’s enforcement efforts. Indeed, as COVID-19 recordkeeping continues to drive up DART rates for a number of employers due to the need for COVID-19 positive employees to isolate, more may be pulled in OSHA’s SST Program. Thus, it is important for employers to understand the changes possibly to come in e-recordkeeping, as well as what those changes could mean in the context of evaluating and recording/reporting injuries and illnesses.

Participants in this webinar learned about: Continue reading

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Guidance to Clarify its Accidental Release Reporting Rule

By Beeta Lashkari, Eric J. Conn, and Micah Smith

Earlier this month, on September 1, 2022, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) announced the release of a new guidance document about the agency’s still-relatively new Accidental Release Reporting Rule.  The Accidental Release Reporting Rule, which went into effect in March 2020, requires owners and operators of stationary sources to report accidental releases that result in a fatality, a serious injury, or substantial property damage to the CSB within eight hours. Just a few months ago, the CSB published its first list of incidents that had been reported to the agency pursuant to the rule.

Of the new guidance document, CSB Interim Executive Steve Owens said:

“Our goal is to make sure that owners and operators report chemical releases to the CSB as required by law. While many companies already have been complying with the rule and submitting their required reports, this guidance should help resolve any uncertainties about the reporting requirement. If someone is unsure about what to do, they should report, rather than risk violating the rule.”

The new guidance has been a long time coming. Indeed, the agency Continue reading

Cal/OSHA Moves Closer to Issuing Its COVID-19 Non-Emergency Standard

By Andrew Sommer and Megan Shaked

In July 2022, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) revealed a proposed Permanent COVID-19 regulation. The draft permanent rule is intended to replace the current version of the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that is set to expire at the end of 2022.  Here is a link to the agency’s draft regulatory text for the permanent rule.

On July 29, 2022, the Standards Board issued a rulemaking notice that set both the date for a meeting of the Standards Board when the proposed COVID-19 permanent rule would be debated and discussed, as well as an official due date for written comments from interested stakeholder.  Both of those were yesterday, September 15, 2022.  A vote on a proposed final rule is expected in late November or December, with the rule replacing the ETS and going into effect on January 1, 2023 and continuing through December 2024.

Background about the Proposed Permanent Rule

The proposed non-emergency rule (commonly referred to as the permanent rule) would apply until 2 years after effective date, with recordkeeping requirements applying until 3 years after effective date.  The most significant expansion in the proposal is the incorporation of the controversial new definition of “close contact” from the California Department of Public Health, which now means Continue reading

OSHA Updates Its Severe Violator Enforcement Program to Sweep In Exponentially More Employers

By Eric J. Conn and Ashley D. Mitchell

On September 15, 2022, OSHA announced a significant set of updates to its dreaded Severe Violator Enforcement Program (“SVEP”), the first update to the program in over a decade. In a Press Release accompanying the update, Doug Parker, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, explained:

The Severe Violator Enforcement Program empowers OSHA to sharpen its focus on employers who – even after receiving citations for exposing workers to hazardous conditions and serious dangers – fail to mitigate these hazards . . . . Today’s expanded criteria reflect the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to ensuring OSHA has the tools it needs to ensure employers protect their workers or hold them accountable when they fail to provide safe and healthy workplaces.

Two of the three SVEP-qualifying criteria have not changed, and they are:

  1. Fatality/Catastrophe Criterion – A fatality/catastrophe inspection where OSHA finds at least one willful or repeated violation or issues a failure-to-abate notice based on a serious violation directly related either to an employee death or three or more employee hospitalizations.
  2. Egregious Criterion – All egregious enforcement actions (i.e., per-instance citations).

But historically, the principal way that employers “qualified” into SVEP was by enforcement actions that included 2+ willful or repeat violations related to a particular set of standards that represented “high emphasis hazards.” Indeed, that criteria has accounted for more than 70% of all SVEP-qualifying citations. Those “high emphasis hazards” essentially reflected the subjects of OSHA’s active enforcement National Emphasis Programs, including:

  • Fall Hazards in all industries
  • Amputation Hazards covered by Lockout/Tagout and Machine Guarding standards
  • Combustible Dust Hazards
  • Crystalline Silica Hazards
  • Lead Hazards
  • Grain Handling Hazards
  • Excavation/Trenching Hazards

The most important change in the updated SVEP is that Continue reading

[Webinar] OSHA’s Recordkeeping, Reporting, and E-Recordkeeping Rules

On Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at 1 p.m. EST, join Lindsay A. DiSalvo and Ashley D. Mitchell for a webinar regarding Important Nuances of OSHA’s Recordkeeping, Reporting, and E-Recordkeeping Rules.

Although OSHA’s injury and illness recordkeeping and reporting rules may seem clear on their face, there are many nuances in the applicable standards that can create challenges to accurately making and maintaining those required records and reports. And the accuracy of injury and illness records could be becoming even more essential in light of the changes OSHA has proposed to the current e-recordkeeping rule, which would increase the availability and use of injury and illness data.

Already, e-recordkeeping data is collected by OSHA and used in developing and executing its Site-Specific Targeting (“SST”) Program based on an employer’s 300A Summary. Per the changes proposed in the current rulemaking effort, OSHA intends to expand who is required to submit recordkeeping data, what data is collected, and what data is shared with the public. This would result in more employers’ injury and illness data being under the microscope and incorporated into OSHA’s enforcement efforts. Indeed, as COVID-19 recordkeeping continues to drive up DART rates for a number of employers due to the need for COVID-19 positive employees to isolate, more may be pulled in OSHA’s SST Program. Thus, it is important for employers to understand the changes possibly to come in e-recordkeeping, as well as what those changes could mean in the context of evaluating and recording/reporting injuries and illnesses.

Participants in this webinar will learn about: Continue reading

What Employers Need to Know About the Monkeypox Virus [Webinar Recording]

On September 6, 2022, Kara M. MacielEric J. Conn and Ashley D. Mitchell presented a webinar regarding What Employers Need to Know About the Monkeypox Virus.

On July 23rd, the World Health Organization declared Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. By late July, the U.S. surpassed 10,000 total cases, and the Biden Administration declared it a public health emergency. While the Monkeypox Virus is less transmissible than COVID-19 and rarely fatal in its current form, there are still workplace safety and health considerations employers will have to address.

Participants in this webinar learned: Continue reading

[Webinar] What Employers Need to Know About the Monkeypox Virus

On Tuesday, September 6, 2022 at 1 p.m. EST, join Kara M. MacielEric J. Conn and Ashley D. Mitchell for a webinar regarding What Employers Need to Know About the Monkeypox Virus.

On July 23rd, the World Health Organization declared Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. By late July, the U.S. surpassed 10,000 total cases, and the Biden Administration declared it a public health emergency. While the Monkeypox Virus is less transmissible than COVID-19 and rarely fatal in its current form, there are still workplace safety and health considerations employers will have to address.

Participants in this webinar will learn: Continue reading

New Twist in the Federal Contractor COVID-19 Vaccine-Mandate Saga

By Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s COVID-19 Task Force

In case anyone has forgotten, there are still a few COVID-19 vaccine mandates out there that the Supreme Court has not struck down.  There are the federal employee and military vaccine mandates, and for private employers, the federal contractor vaccine-mandate.  The federal contractor mandate arose from Pres. Biden’s Executive Order 14042, which directed executive agencies to include a clause in procurement agreements requiring employees who work on or in connection with a covered federal contract, or who even share a workplace with another employee who does, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  

You may have forgotten about that federal contractor vaccine mandate because that requirement has been the subject of nationwide temporary injunction for the last nine months, following a decision in December 2021 by a federal district court judge in Georgie in a legal challenge captioned Georgia v. Biden, one of several legal challenges to the Biden Administration’s authority to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine through the 1949 Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (aka the Procurement Act).  The district court judge in Georgia v. Biden entered a nationwide preliminary injunction after concluding that the plaintiff States and one trade association were likely to prevail on their assertion that the mandate was outside the scope of the Procurement Act. The judge ordered the federal government not to enforce the mandate in any covered agreement, and several other federal courts have also imposed other, though narrower, restrictions on EO 14042.  Since then, the Administration has shelved the vaccine requirement for federal contractors. 

A lot of water has also passed under the bridge since that time, and the COVID-19 landscape has changed pretty significantly.  Most notably, the CDC recently updated its COVID-19 guidance in several ways, but most relevant to the federal contractor vaccine mandate, the CDC now no longer distinguishes between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals for how COVID-19 controls should apply.  For example, quarantine and isolation requirements are perfectly aligned for fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and completely unvaccinated individuals.  The rationale for the new relaxed guidance from Pres. Biden’s CDC is that there are now “so many tools available to use for reducing COVID-19 severity, [so] there is significantly less risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic.”  That rationale would seemingly undermine the original purpose of the federal contractor vaccine mandate – ensuring “economy and efficiency” of the federal procurement system by ensuring the health of the contracting workforce.

Nevertheless, the Administration has continued to defend the federal contractor vaccine mandate as the legal challenges to EO 14042 have moved through the court system.  The latest development in that litigation came in yet another Friday night COVID-19 surprise, Continue reading

What Employers Need To Know About the Latest Public Health Crisis – The Monkeypox Virus

By Eric J. Conn and Ashley D. Mitchell

After the last couple of years living with COVID-19, we were desperately hoping that we would not have to be talking, thinking or writing about the Monkeypox Virus (“MPV”) as a workplace safety and health issue.  And while Monkeypox does NOT appear to be a COVID-19 redux, we have been getting enough questions from our clients that it now seems unavoidable that we have to dig into this.  Alas, here is our first take on Monkeypox – what is it, what are the symptoms and modes of transmission, how is it similar to and different from COVID-19, and what should employers be thinking about and doing in connection with this latest plague.

The Monkeypox Virus (MPV):

Monkeypox is a zoonotic diseases, which means it is caused by a virus that is passed between animals & people.  MPV was first detected in 1958 in a colony of research monkeys in Central and West Africa, and the first human case of Monkeypox was recorded in 1970.  The virus that causes Monkeypox is in the same family as the virus that causes smallpox, and they involve similar, but less severe symptoms in the case of MPV.

The current Monkeypox outbreak is unique in that prior to 2022, Monkeypox cases were extremely rare in the U.S., and cases in individuals outside of Africa, where the virus commonly occurs, were almost always linked to international travel.  In mid-May of this year, the first cases associated with the current outbreak were identified in the U.S., and it is clearly spreading now among non-travelers.  On July 23rd, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). By late July, the U.S. surpassed 10,000 total cases. Continue reading

CDC Updates Its COVID-19 Guidance – But Still No Word From OSHA

By Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force

Thankfully, it has been quite a while since there has been a material update to discuss on the COVID-19 front.  Except for those of you in the healthcare space, things continue to be pretty quiet at OSHA on that front, but as I am sure you all have seen, a week ago, on August 11th, the CDC updated some of its COVID-19 guidance in a way that probably affects many employers’ COVID-19 protocols. 

The CDC’s new guidance, entitled Summary of Guidance for Minimizing the Impact of COVID-19 on Individual Persons, Communities, and Health Care Systems, scales back prior onerous recommendations for COVID-19 prevention strategies based on an acknowledgement in the guidance document that:

“with so many tools available to use for reducing COVID-19 severity, there is significantly less risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic.”

However, how the new guidance maps to workplaces is not a simple analysis.  As has been the case throughout the pandemic, trying to apply CDC’s guidance to general industry workplaces, when it is actually written for the general public or for specific sectors (most often public health agencies and healthcare) is not always intuitive, and often leads to conflicting and impossible outcomes.  Of course, that’s where OSHA is supposed to come in; i.e., to take CDC’s general guidance and explain for employers how it should apply in private industry workplaces.  But OSHA has not kept up with its duty in that regard.  Indeed, despite promises for more than five months that updated COVID-19 guidance was coming “soon,” OSHA has not chimed in about how it expects employers to map CDC’s general public guidance to the workplace since before the Delta variant struck.  So with that vacuum, here is our best take on the CDC’s updated guidance.

What Does CDC’s Updated COVID-19 Guidance Change?  Continue reading

A Deep Dive Into Periodic Lockout/Tagout Inspections [Webinar Recording]

On August 17, 2022, Aaron R. Gelb and special guest, Tabitha Thompson, presented a webinar regarding A Deep Dive Into Periodic Lockout/Tagout Inspections.

Year in and year out, OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout (Energy Control) standard is one of the most frequently cited standards. With the National Emphasis Program on Amputations continuing in 2022, employers are subject to inspections focusing on their LOTO programs and practices even if there are no serious injuries or complaints made about them. With increased scrutiny comes a greater risk of citations—particularly repeat violations—which can lead to employers being placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Despite being such an important standard, OSHA’s LOTO rule continues to be one of the least understood. This webinar took a deep dive into arguably one of the most confusing (not to mention, one of the most frequently cited) aspects of the LOTO rule – periodic inspections.

Participants in this webinar learned about: Continue reading

Local Emphasis Program for Food Manufacturers in Wisconsin

By Aaron R. Gelb and Darius Rohani-Shukla

Earlier this year, in April, OSHA launched a Local Emphasis Program (LEP) in Wisconsin focused on food manufacturers.  This LEP reflects the agency’s ongoing efforts to ramp up targeted enforcement efforts and follows Regional Emphasis Programs (REP) initiated in Region V last year focusing on exposure to noise hazards (June 2021) and transportation tank cleaning operations (August 2021), as well as the National Emphasis Program (NEP) on outdoor and indoor heat-related hazards which started in April 2022.  General industry employers in Region 5 still have to contend with the 2018 Powered Industrial Truck (PIT) Local Emphasis Program as well.  Meanwhile, we have been told to expect a similar LEP targeting Illinois food manufacturers, with the primary difference being the NAICS Codes on which that LEP will focus.  While we have not yet seen the Illinois LEP targeting food processing establishments, we expect both programs will involve an inspection and review of production operations and working conditions; injury and illness records; safety and health programs; and hazardous energy control methods to identify and correct workplace hazards at all applicable inspection sites.

Why Is OSHA Targeting the Food Manufacturing Industry?

After examining data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for Wisconsin employers with a primary North American Industry Classification (NAICS) code in the 311xxx range, OSHA determined that food manufacturing industry injuries occurred at higher rates than found in other sectors. In OSHA’s view, the data demonstrates higher rates of total reportable cases; cases involving days away from work, job restriction or transfers, fractures, amputations, cuts, lacerations, punctures, heat burns, chemical burns, and corrosions. As such, OSHA’s stated goal in launching this LEP is to encourage employers to identify, reduce, and eliminate hazards associated with exposure to machine hazards during production activities and off-shift sanitation, service, and maintenance tasks.

Which Employers Will Be Targeted? Continue reading

[Webinar] A Deep Dive Into Periodic Lockout/Tagout Inspections

On Wednesday, August 17, 2022 at 1 p.m. EST, join Aaron R. Gelb and Beeta B. Lashkari for a webinar regarding A Deep Dive Into Periodic Lockout/Tagout Inspections.

Year in and year out, OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout (Energy Control) standard is one of the most frequently cited standards. With the National Emphasis Program on Amputations continuing in 2022, employers are subject to inspections focusing on their LOTO programs and practices even if there are no serious injuries or complaints made about them. With increased scrutiny comes a greater risk of citations—particularly repeat violations—which can lead to employers being placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Despite being such an important standard, OSHA’s LOTO rule continues to be one of the least understood. This webinar will take a deep dive into arguably one of the most confusing (not to mention, one of the most frequently cited) aspects of the LOTO rule – periodic inspections.

Participants in this webinar will learn about: Continue reading

CMC Spotlight Series – Meet Ashley D. Mitchell!

As an Associate in Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s Chicago office, Ashley D. Mitchell supports both the OSHA and Labor and Employment practice groups. She represents and advises clients in employer-employee relationship issues, including wage and hour disputes, Title VII discrimination claims, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), workplace policies and procedures, harassment training, and employee handbooks.

In support of the OSHA • Workplace Safety Practice Group, Ashley represents employers during federal OSHA and State OSH Plan inspections and investigations. She also guides clients in responding to workplace safety complaints and litigates contests of OSHA citations.

Ashley brings valuable experience in employee-side employment litigation. Prior to joining the firm, she interned at the Chicago Park District’s Law Department as a Student Attorney. While at the Domestic Violence & Immigration Clinic, she guided clients through the U-Visa application process.

In 2018, Ashley received her J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law. She also has a B.A. in Government, cum laude, from Georgetown University.

In her spare time, she volunteers by tutoring students preparing for the bar exam.

Get to Know Ashley!

Where is your favorite vacation spot?  

My favorite vacation spot is Cancún. It was my first international vacation and since then, I’ve been several times with family and friends. While I’ve been several times, I’ve never repeated an experience. You can relax, shop, ride an ATV, or explore the culture. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s there—adventure, rest, learning something new.

It’s also a chance for me to practice my Spanish. I often say that I’m proficient in Spanish, not fluent because I learned in academia, so I speak more like an academic than a native speaker. Vacations to Cancún are a great opportunity for me to practice. Keeping up my Spanish language skills is incredibly important to me. My ability to speak Spanish afforded me the opportunity to represent Spanish speaking clients in my law school’s domestic violence and immigration clinic and has proven invaluable in my current practice counseling employers who may have Spanish-speaking employees.

What was your first job?  

My first job was at Continue reading

Regional Emphasis Program for Warehousing Operations

On August 3, 2022, OSHA announced a new Regional Emphasis Program (“REP”) focused on warehousing and inside or outside storage and distribution yards in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, including those located at federal agencies, and federal installations in Region III’s jurisdiction.  Covered employers in these states would be well-advised to dust off their copy of Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s OSHA Inspection Toolkit and take the necessary steps to ensure they are ready for the inspections that will begin before the end of the year.

Why Is OSHA Targeting Warehousing Operations?

In the REP and accompanying press release, OSHA explains it is seeking to reduce injury/illness rates in the warehousing industry by conducting comprehensive inspections to address hazards that may include those associated with powered industrial trucks, lockout tagout, life safety, means of egress, and fire suppression.  OSHA further explains in the REP that while the rate of total recordable case rate for all private industry was 2.7 cases per 100 full-time workers, the rates for the industries included in this REP were 3.5 for beverage manufacturing; 4.8 for warehousing and storage; 4.0 for food and beverage stores; 4.3 for grocery wholesalers; and 5.5 for beer, wine, and alcoholic beverage wholesalers.

The REP calls out the potentially serious hazards involved in Continue reading

Update on the Timeline for OSHA to Finalize the Permanent COVID Rule for Healthcare

It’s been a while since our last update about OSHA’s rulemaking for the permanent COVID-19 rule for healthcare, which is very good news.  It was always a possibility that by the time OSHA got around to finalizing and issuing its permanent COVID-19 regulation that the pandemic would be in such a state that it would not make any practical, health, or political sense to actually issue the rule.  But that does not appear to be OSHA’s thinking right now, or the thinking of the DC Circuit and the nurses unions that continue to push OSHA to finalize the rule.

According to a sworn statement by Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Doug Parker on July 25, 2022, OSHA remains “on track” to complete its long-term COVID-19 safety healthcare standard in September to October of 2022.  This is consistent with OSHA’s January 2022 statement that it intended to develop a permanent COVID-19 standard for healthcare workers within six to nine months.

Assistant Secretary Parker’s statement appears to be a reaction to inconsistent testimony from Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh before the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 15, 2022.  There, Secretary Walsh testified that OSHA would finalize the standard in three to six months, which sounded like a shift in OSHA’s target issuance date to later in the year or even next year.  Continue reading

What Does the EEOC’s Updated COVID-19 Testing Guidance Mean for Employers

By Kara M. Maciel and Ashley D. Mitchell

As COVID-19 infections continue to climb, the EEOC rolled back its guidance that COVID-19 viral screening tests conducted by employers is always permissive under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The updated guidance requires employers to weigh a host of factors and determine whether COVID-19 viral screening is “job-related and consistent with business necessity,” the traditional standard for determining compliance with the ADA.

The Factors Employers Should Consider:

Under the EEOC’s updated FAQs, an employer may, as a mandatory screening measure, administer a COVID-19 viral test, if the employer can show it is “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” In making this determination, employers should assess these factors:

  • The level of community transmission
  • The vaccination status of employees
  • The accuracy and speed of processing different types of COVID-19 viral tests
  • The degree to which breakthrough infections are possible for employees who are “up to date” on vaccinations
  • The ease of transmissibility of the current variant(s)
  • The possible severity of illness from the current variant
  • What types of contact employees may have with others in the workplace or elsewhere that they are required to work
  • The potential effect on operations of an employee enters the workplace with COVID-19

It is worth noting, Continue reading

Comment Period Set for Cal/OSHA’s Permanent COVID-19 Rule

Last month, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) revealed a proposed Permanent COVID-19 regulationThe draft permanent rule is intended to replace the current version of the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that is set to expire at the end of 2022.  Here is a link to the agency’s draft regulatory text for the permanent rule.

The proposed permanent rule is expected to remain in effect for two years, except for the record-making and recordkeeping provisions that would remain effective for three years.

On July 29, 2022, the Standards Board issued the attached rulemaking notice that set both the date for a meeting of the Standards Board when the proposed COVID-19 permanent rule would be debated and discussed, as well as an official due date for written comments from interested stakeholder.  Both of those are set for September 15, 2022.

The rulemaking process for the proposed permanent rule is different than with the prior iterations of the emergency COVID-19 rulemaking.  A nonemergency rule requires Continue reading

The Employers E-Recordkeeping Coalition Submits Comprehensive Written Comments to OSHA’s E-Recordkeeping Rulemaking Docket

By Eric J. Conn, Chair of Conn Maciel Carey’s national OSHA Practice

On March 30th, OSHA published a new proposed rule to amend and dramatically expand the requirements of its “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Rule” (aka, the E-Recordkeeping Rule).  We digested the tortured history of OSHA’s E-Recordkeeping Rule, the proposed amendments OSHA introduced this Spring, and the implications of the proposed changes in this article.

Conn Maciel Carey’s OSHA Team organized a flat fee-based E-Recordkeeping Rulemaking Coalition of employers and trade groups to collaborate to submit public comments on this proposal and otherwise participate in the rulemaking process to advocate for the most manageable possible E-Recordkeeping Rule.  The first major step taken by our Employers E-Recordkeeping Coalition was to submit a comprehensive set of written comments to OSHA’s rulemaking record on June 30th.  Here is a copy of our as-filed comments.

To summarize, we addressed in the comments that: Continue reading

Cal/OSHA Updates FAQs Following New CDPH Definition of Close Contacts

By Megan S. Shaked

With the definition of “close contacts” now focused on “shared indoor airspace” rather than the 6 feet/15 minute threshold, Cal/OSHA has updated its FAQs to assist in interpreting the various ETS requirements implicated by the new definition.

Background

When the current version of the ETS was adopted, it specified that if close contact is defined “by regulation or order of the CDPH,” the CDPH definition would apply rather than the definition provided in the ETS itself.  When CDPH issued an order on June 8 updating its definition of “close contact,” that new definition applied to the ETS.  (Cal/OSHA updated its FAQs on June 21 to make clear that the new definition applies to the ETS.)

On June 9, CDPH followed up with updated FAQs to address this new definition.

Cal/OSHA’s FAQs re New Definition of Close Contact

On Monday, Cal/OSHA added its own update to its FAQs, adding a “Definitions” section to address the updated definition of close contact: Continue reading

OSHA’s Heat Illness Rulemaking Update – Recent NACOSH Meetings

By Eric J. Conn and Beeta B. Lashkari

OSHA’s rulemaking for an outdoor and indoor heat illness prevention rule continues to chug along, so we wanted to provide a quick review of the latest developments.  Of particular note, two meetings of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety & Health (NACOSH) focused on heat illness and the heat illness rulemaking were held on June 30th.  Conn Maciel Carey’s Employers Heat Illness Prevention Coalition participated in both. 

Here is a copy of the as-filed comments we submitted to OSHA in advance of these NACOSH meetings, reiterating our previously submitted comments, and requesting to speak at the June 30th NACOSH meeting (which request was granted).

The meetings were well attended by NACOSH committee members and OSHA staff, and included appearances from Andy Levinson (Acting Director, OSHA Directorate of Standards and Guidance), Lisa Long (Acting Deputy Director, OSHA Directorate of Standards and Guidance), Carla Marcellus (Office of Maritime and Agriculture), and Jennifer Levin (Committee Counsel, Office of the Solicitor).  Kate McMahon and Beeta Lashkari attended on behalf of our Coalition.  The first meeting was for public listening only, and Kate was one of only two public stakeholders who spoke at the second meeting, and the only employers’ representative to do so.

Here are the key takeaways from the two meetings, as well as a summary of the public statements we made to the NACOSH committee:  Continue reading

OSHA and Climate Change (Heat Illness, Wildfire Smoke, and Super Storms) [Webinar Recording]

On Tuesday, July 12, 2022, Kate McMahon, Ashley Mitchell, and Samuel Rose presented a webinar regarding OSHA and Climate Change (Heat Illness, Wildfire Smoke, and Super Storms).

Recent studies show that workers are often the first to experience the effects of climate change and may be affected for longer durations and at greater intensities. NIOSH cites a 2014 study indicating that workers are “the canaries in the coal mine of climate change impacts.” Accordingly, OSHA has embarked on one of the broadest, most significant rulemakings it has undertaken in over a decade – to develop a comprehensive occupational standard to regulate heat illness associated with exposure to heat on the job – in outdoors as well as indoor settings.

A heat standard will impact Continue reading

Conn Maciel Carey Adds Two Exceptional OSHA and Employment Law Associates in California and DC

Conn Maciel Carey LLP is pleased to announce the addition of two talented new attorneys — Darius Rohani-Shukla (Washington, DC) and Samuel S. Rose (Los Angeles).

Associate Darius Rohani-Shukla has joined the firm’s Labor and Employment and OSHA practices in Washington, DC.  Mr. Rohani-Shukla adds solid experience in litigation as well as labor and employment law, including restrictive covenants, wage and hour disputes, claims of discrimination and harassment, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

“We are excited to have Darius advising companies on proactive measures to comply with the myriad of regulatory requirements under federal and state law,” Ms. Maciel says. “He is eager to advise clients on privacy rights for employers at the state and local levels.”

“I like that CMC is a growing firm focused on labor and employment.” he says, “I’m looking forward to getting involved in fascinating and sophisticated work.”

Mr. Conn adds, “I was impressed with Darius’ knowledge of employment law and his critical thinking. He is also a terrific writer, which is hard to find in young lawyers.”

Continue reading