By Eric J. Conn and Mark Trapp
Earlier this month, OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for a “Worker Walkaround Representative Designation Process” Rule, which would expand the circumstances when non-employees, particularly union representatives at non-union workplaces, can accompany OSHA inspectors during enforcement inspections.
The proposed rule would allow union representatives, other labor or community activist groups, and even plaintiffs’ attorneys (or their expert witnesses) direct and early access to non-union workplaces and employees, potentially as a front for organizing campaigns where they otherwise would not have access or to advance personally injury lawsuits. Similarly, the rule could allow competitors, contractors, or others onsite to employers’ detriment.
The Washington Legal Foundation featured an article by Eric J. Conn of Conn Maciel Carey’s national OSHA Practice and Mark Trapp of CMC’s Labor & Employment Practice about this development. Here is a link to the WLF article.
Employers OSHA Inspection Walkaround Rulemaking Coalition
With that backdrop, we understand that employers have a strong interest in having a seat at the table for this rulemaking. To that end, Conn Maciel Carey’s OSHA Practice and Labor Law Practice are collaborating to organize a fee-based company-anonymous coalition of employers and trade groups to advocate for the most reasonable possible fed OSHA regulation about third party participation in OSHA inspections. Continue reading
By Eric Conn, Kate McMahon, and Beeta Lashkari
On Friday, May 19, 2023, OSHA presented at the Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) Small Business Labor Safety (OSHA/MSHA) Roundtable about OSHA’s Heat Illness Rulemaking. At the meeting, OSHA reported about the status of the rulemaking, including the heat working group’s (as led by sub-group two) recommendations regarding potential elements of a standard, as we describe below (see “NACOSH Heat Working Group Meeting” section below). OSHA also gave an update on its work regarding changes to its compliance materials, which are in line with the heat working group’s (as led by sub-group one) recommendations made to the full NACOSH committee, and then from the full NACOSH committee to OSHA, earlier this year.
Importantly, just as we predicted, during the SBA roundtable meeting, OSHA stated that it is working diligently to pull together materials to initiate the SBREFA process as soon as possible, and when asked about the timing of issuance of the final standard, specifically, whether that will not happen until 10-12 months at the earliest, OSHA stated that the SBREFA process will be happening very soon, and that the heat injury and illness prevention rulemaking is a high priority for this Administration.
As we mentioned previously, we have officially moved into what we are calling Phase 2 of the rulemaking, which covers all advocacy and information-sharing from today (the start of the SBREFA process) through issuance of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”). Here are some of the benefits Continue reading
By Eric J. Conn, Kate M. McMahon and Beeta B. Lashkari
On March 20th OSHA announced that it will hold a virtual meeting of the Heat Working Group (“Working Group”) of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (“NACOSH”) for later this week – on Thursday, April 27, 2023. We expect the Working Group presentation to include specific recommendations on potential elements of a Heat Injury and Illness Prevention standard. The full NACOSH committee will meet a little later, sometime in May (date TBD), likely to receive and vote on the recommendations of the Heat Working Group about a potential heat illness standard. NACOSH recommendations typically carry great weight with OSHA, and we expect OSHA will most certainly give them serious consideration. Indeed, we believe OSHA has delayed the start of its SBREFA process so that it can utilize the NACOSH recommendations in formulating the rulemaking package for participants in the SBREFA (more on that below). Accordingly, these Spring NACOSH meetings will be a major milestone in OSHA’s rulemaking process, as the recommendations from NACOSH are expected to set the foundation for OSHA to develop its proposed rule.
The April meetings also will be our first opportunity to get a real glimpse at the outline and terms of what a proposed Heat Injury and Illness Prevention rule will look like. On behalf of our Coalition, Conn Maciel Carey has registered to join the April meeting (and, once the date is confirmed and announced by OSHA, will register to the join the May meeting, as well). We will share an update on what we learn following each meeting.
As a brief recap, OSHA initiated its rulemaking on “Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Settings” on October 27, 2021, when OSHA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPRM”) in the Federal Register. Comments on the ANPRM were due January 26, 2022. NACOSH has played an important role Continue reading
By Eric J. Conn, Lindsay A. DiSalvo, and Dan C. Deacon
We have an update to share about OSHA’s rulemaking to expand its regulation to “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” (known better as the Electronic Recordkeeping or E-Recordkeeping Rule). Late last week, OSHA delivered to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a proposed Final (Amended) E-Recordkeeping Rule for review by the Administration’s economists and policy experts. OMB’s website reflects that, as of April 7, 2023, OMB:
- Has received a proposed E-Recordkeeping Rule from OSHA; and
- The rule is in the “Final Rule” stage.
As we indicated a few weeks ago, OSHA’s latest target date to issue the rule is June of this year, and getting the proposed final rule to OMB last week lines up well with that target. The submission of the proposed rule to OMB means OSHA is at the goal line; just one step away from finalizing a rule that more closely resembles the agency’s original intent and broad scope of the E-Recordkeeping Rule when it was promulgated in 2016 under the Obama Administration.
The original E-Recordkeeping Rule would have had larger employers submitting to OSHA annually the data from their full panoply of injury and illness recordkeeping forms (the 300 Logs, 301 incident reports, and 300A Annual Summaries), and smaller employers in certain “high hazard industries” submitting only the 300A Annual Summary data. Before ever collecting the more detailed level data from 300 Logs and 301 Incident Reports, former President Trump’s OSHA rolled back the more onerous requirements, such that no matter the employer’s size, if you were covered by the rule, you submitted only 300A Annual Summary date.
OSHA was sued by organizations representing labor alleging that Continue reading
On February 16, 2023, OSHA announced that it is inviting the public and workplace safety stakeholders to share their comments to assist the agency as it modernizes and enhances its Voluntary Protection Program (“VPP”). The deadline for comments is April 14, 2023.
Established in 1982, OSHA’s VPP is a program that recognizes workplaces that demonstrate best practices in safety and health management and serve as industry models. VPP generally requires employers to implement “effective” safety and health management systems (“SHMS”) programs as certified by OSHA, and maintain recorded injury and illness rates below the Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their sectors. Once admitted to the program, an employer is exempt from “programmed” OSHA inspections, though VPP participants must be recertified every three to five years.
Per OSHA, “VPP is effective at reducing injuries and illnesses at participant worksites.” For example, the average VPP worksite had a Days Away Restricted or Transferred (“DART”) case rate of 53% below the average for its industry for non-construction participants and 60% below the average for its industry for site-based construction and mobile workforce participation for 2020 (calculated annually by the Office of Partnership and Recognition and based upon the injury and illness data submitted every year by the VPP participants). These lower than industry rates have been documented since 2001, showing, per OSHA, that “VPP has consistently reduced injury and illness rates in both construction and non-construction VPP worksites for two decades compared with the national average.”
Nonetheless, OSHA states that: Continue reading
By Dan C. Deacon and Eric J. Conn
We have a quick update for you about OSHA’s rulemaking to expand the Electronic Recordkeeping Rule. Throughout the last year, OSHA’s intent to finalize this rule ahead of the next deadline for employers to submit E-Recordkeeping data (i.e., well ahead of March 2023) was clear, but that will not be the case. OSHA delayed finalizing the proposed revisions to the E-Recordkeeping Rule several times. The delays have now prompted further litigation by a pro-worker activist group in furtherance of a challenge initiated during the Trump Administration to the rollback of the E-Recordkeeping rule by Trump’s OSHA early in his term.
The challenging groups are resuming their 2019 lawsuit (State of New Jersey, et al., v. Walsh) because the Biden Administration recently moved its target date for finalizing the updated rule from pre-March 2023 to June 2023, arguing that OSHA’s “pattern of reneging on its agreements” means litigation is the only sure path to resolve their claims. OSHA had previously signaled that the rule would be finalized by March 2023 in its Fall 2022 regulatory agenda, but OSHA’s counsel recently informed the petitioners and the Court that OSHA would not make that commitment by at least three months. A short time later, the petitioners filed a couple of briefs with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit earlier this month (on January 11th and 12th), asking the DC Circuit to bring the case out of abeyance and set a quick schedule. The petitions brief requesting to revive the case under a scheduling order notes that Continue reading