2018 OSHA News Releases from January 1st through January 15th

  • 01/09/2018 – Region 2 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites South Jersey Manufacturer For Continued Safety Violations
  • 01/05/2018 – OSHA National News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Urges Employees and Employers Engaged In Snow Removal and Cleanup to Be Aware of Potential Hazards
  • 01/05/2018 – Region 1 OSHA News Release – OSHA Cites Schnabel Foundation Company, Proposes $212,396 in Penalties
  • 01/05/2018 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Imposes Maximum Fines on Motion Picture Company for Failing to Adequately Protect From Fall Hazards
  • 01/04/2018 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – Georgia Safety Stand-Down Focuses on Winter Weather Hazards
  • 01/03/2018 – Region 5 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Finds Ohio Contractor Continues To Expose Roofers to Falls and Other Safety Hazards
  • 01/03/2018 – Region 5 OSHA News Release – OSHA, Miron Construction, and 23 Contractors Partner for Safety on University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Dorm Renovation Project
  • 01/03/2018 – Region 7 OSHA News Release – OSHA and Ironworkers Partner to Provide Outreach and Protect Construction Employees on Jobsites

 

December 2017 OSHA News Releases

  • 12/29/2017 – OSHA National News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Urges Employees and Employers Engaged In Snow Removal and Cleanup to Be Aware of Potential Hazards
  • 12/28/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Labor Department Cites Tampa Electric and Gaffin Industrial Services After Molten Slag Release Fatally Injures 5 and Burns 1
  • 12/28/2017 – Region 9 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Saipan Construction Company After Three Fatal Exposures to Hydrogen Sulfide Gas
  • 12/27/2017 – Region 5 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Three Companies for Exposing Employees To Lead, Other Hazards, During Renovation of Chicago’s Old Post Office
  • 12/21/2017 – Region 1 OSHA News Release – New Haven Building Trades and Dimeo Construction Partner with U.S. Department of Labor to Promote Employee and Workplace Safety
  • 12/21/2017 – Region 5 OSHA News Release – Vinyl Floor Manufacturer Faces $514,236 in Penalties for Safety Violations
  • 12/19/2017 – OSHA Trade Release – Statement from OSHA Regarding Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2016
  • 12/19/2017 – Region 7 OSHA News Release – U.S. Labor Department and Bartlett Grain Reach Comprehensive Settlement Agreement to Improve Safety at 20 Facilities in 6 States
  • 12/18/2017 – OSHA Trade Release – U.S. Labor Department’s OSHA Accepting Electronically Submitted Injury, Illness Reports Through December 31
  • 12/15/2017 – OSHA Trade Release – OSHA and the National Association of Women in Construction Renew Alliance to Protect Safety and Health of Female Construction Workers
  • 12/14/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Florida Company and Proposes $148,845 in Penalties for Exposing Employees to Trenching Hazards
  • 12/12/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Georgia Contractor for Trenching Hazards and Proposes $130,552 in Penalties
  • 12/11/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Alabama Auto Dealership after Fatal Fire
  • 12/08/2017 – Region 2 OSHA News Release – Employee Receives Court-Ordered Restitution After Justified Whistleblowing Action
  • 12/04/2017 – Region 3 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites West Virginia Contractor After Employee Injured in Roof Fall, Proposes Penalties Totaling $86,916
  • 12/01/2017 – Region 1 OSHA News Release – OSHA Cites Connecticut Contractor for Mercury and Respirator Hazards at New Hampshire Demolition Site

 

Deadline Extension for Annual Injury and Illness Reports (OSHA Form 300A)

In the “better late than “never” category, OSHA announced today that it will still accept 300A annual summary injury data for calendar year 2016 through OSHA’s on-line Injury Tracking Application (ITA) (https://www.osha.gov/injuryreporting/index.html) until midnight on December 31, 2017.  If submitted by then, but after the official December 15th deadline, OSHA announced that no enforcement action would be taken.

Additional details are in the OSHA announcement linked here

New Sexual Harassment Requirements for Illinois Lobbyists

This post was written by Matthew C. Luzadder and Jeffrey Hunter and originally posted on Kelley Drye’s Labor Days Blog.

Take action now to meet the new policy, training, and certification requirements.

Beginning January 1, 2018, Illinois lobbyists and their employers must comply with new sexual harassment compliance rules. Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law Public Act 100-0554 (the Act) to combat sexual harassment in the state legislature. The Act imposes sweeping new requirements on lobbyists even if they are the victims. Press reports detail a number of allegations involving legislators, including some made by lobbyists and activists. One allegation forced the Senate majority leader to step-down from his post. In addition, hundreds of women signed an open letter to bring attention to this pattern of abuse in the state capitol. It appears that discussion of sexual harassment will continue into 2018.

Before the Act, only the Legislative Inspector General could investigate allegations of legislators’ sexual misconduct. That position, however, has been vacant since 2014. Notably, more than two dozen allegations sat uninvestigated on an empty desk. Now, state law authorizes the Secretary of State Inspector General to investigate allegations and the State Executive Ethics Commission to enforce the rules. The legislature, in policing itself, requires lobbyist employers to follow much the same requirements as state agencies in combatting sexual harassment.

Kelley Drye has followed this issue closely and is advising clients on proactive steps they can take to prevent sexual harassment. Stopping the “Harveys in our midst” before they can harm our colleagues or our businesses is more important than ever before. Relying on a generic HR sexual harassment policy is not enough. Employers—not just their registered lobbyists—face new requirements with only weeks to comply. Continue Reading

November 2017 OSHA News Releases

  • 11/29/2017 – Region 3 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Fines US Environmental Inc. for Safety Violations and Proposes Penalties Totaling $333,756
  • 11/28/2017 – Region 6 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor and Pottery Manufacturer Reach Settlement Agreement Following Worker Fatality
  • 11/22/2017 – OSHA National News Release – U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Extends Compliance Date for Electronically Submitting Injury, Illness Reports to December 15, 2017
  • 11/17/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Tampa Electric Co. And Critical Intervention Services Following Hazardous Chemical Release
  • 11/17/2017 – Region 5 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Proposes Over $1.8 Million in Fines Against a Wisconsin Corn Milling Facility After Fatal Grain Dust Explosion
  • 11/09/2017 – OSHA Trade Release – OSHA Issues Final Rule Setting Compliance Date for Crane Operator Certification Requirements
  • 11/09/2017 – Region 1 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Lynnway Auto Auction For Exposing Employees to Numerous Hazards
  • 11/09/2017 – Region 2 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Again Cites Three Queens Supermarkets For Safety Violations
  • 11/08/2017 – Region 7 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Bimbo Bakeries USA For Multiple Workplace Hazards
  • 11/08/2017 – Region 7 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Farmers Cooperative After Worker Entrapped in Grain Bin
  • 11/08/2017 – Region 7 OSHA News Release – Missouri Podiatry Clinic Cited for Improper Handling of Medical Waste
  • 11/08/2017 – Region 8 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Contractors in Montana Following Severe Burns
  • 11/07/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Georgia Parts Manufacturer After Injuries Reveal Hazards
  • 11/07/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Resumes Regular Enforcement in Florida and Georgia
  • 11/02/2017 – OSHA Trade Release – U.S. Department of Labor Signs Alliance with Robotic Industries Association and NIOSH to Improve Worker Protections in Emerging Tech Industry
  • 11/01/2017 – Region 4 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Mississippi Company for Exposing Workers To Hazardous Energy, Equipment, and Other Hazards
  • 11/01/2017 – Region 10 OSHA News Release – U.S. Department of Labor Cites Boise Construction Company For Trenching Violations

 

Say Yes to Mugno

In late October, President Trump nominated FedEx Ground official, Scott Mugno, as OSHA Director. Many critics of this Administration will be surprised to learn that Mr. Mugno appears to have an open mind and is not planning on dismantling the agency. Mugno has earned significant praise for his work at FedEx where he served as the vice president for safety, sustainability and vehicle maintenance and received the company’s highest honor, the FedEx Five Star Award, for his safety work. Administrator Mugno’s approach will likely be more business-friendly through a focus on compliance assistance measures versus aggressive enforcement or new regulations. But focusing on compliance assistance is a far cry from a free pass. While Mr. Mugno’s experience will help him appreciate the compliance challenges faced by the regulated community, his experience will also help him recognize which bad actors are phoning it in on worker safety.

 

 

Written with assistance from Ana Ramirez.

A “Smoky” Legal Issue for 2018 – Medical/Recreational Marijuana In the “Workplace”

This blog was originally posted on Kelley Drye’s Labor Days Blog and written by Barbara E. Hoey and Alyssa Smilowitz.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. However, there are many states, and a few cities, which have legalized medical and recreational marijuana – creating challenges for employers, as these laws “sprout up” (pun intended) across the country.

Also, prior to now, the caselaw was quite clear – an employer could discipline an employee for lawful use of marijuana. See Coats v. Dish Network, LLC, 350 P.3d 849 (Colo. 2015). But the law appears to be changing, as recent cases indicate that courts are beginning to recognize that employees who are lawful users of marijuana are entitled to some protection. Continue Reading

Are Falls Falling?

On September 26th, OSHA announced that citations for 9 out of the 10 most frequently cited standards noticeably declined since fiscal 2016. According to OSHA data, preliminary violation[1] numbers from last fiscal year dropped following years of declining total inspection numbers.  Deputy Director of the OSHA enforcement branch, Patrick Kapust, particularly noted the steep decline in fall protection citations.  Kapust also mentioned that construction fall-related violations, such as ladders, scaffolding, and training,  remain the most commonly cited, and that construction sites account for close to half of OSHA’s inspections. For your reference, here is the list of preliminary top 10 most-cited violations for fiscal 2017:

  1. Fall protection at 6,072 (down from 6,929 preliminary violations in fiscal 2016)
  2. Hazard communication at 4,176 (down from 5,677 preliminary violations in fiscal 2016)
  3. Scaffolding at 3,288 (down from 3,906 preliminary violations in fiscal 2016)
  4. Respiratory protection at 3,097 ( down from 3,585 preliminary violations in fiscal 2016)
  5. Lockout/tagout at 2,877 (down from 3,414 preliminary violations in fiscal 2016)
  6. Ladders at 2,241 (down from 2,639 preliminary violations in fiscal 2016)
  7. Powered industrial trucks at 2,162 (down from 2,860 preliminary violations in fiscal 2016)
  8. Machine guarding at 1,933 (down from 2,451 preliminary violations in fiscal 2016)
  9. Fall protection training at 1,523
  10. Electrical wiring methods at 1,405 (down from 1,940 preliminary violations in fiscal 2016)

 

 

 

 

Written with assistance from Ana Ramirez

[1] The violation numbers are preliminary because OSHA inspectors have up to six months following an inspection to issue citations.

The Salary Scare – The City’s Salary Ban Law Takes Effect

This post was written by Barbara E. Hoey and Diana R. Hamar and was originally posted on Kelley Drye’s Labor Days Blog.

Happy Halloween New York City Employers!

Just in time to scare even large employers, beginning October 31, 2017, it will be against the law for employers in New York City to ask about, rely on, or verify a job applicant’s salary history during the hiring process. As discussed in detail in our prior posts, this new legislation also permits disgruntled applicants to pursue claims against an employer for violations of the law either with the New York City Commission on Human Rights or directly in court.

With only a few weeks left before the law goes into effect, employers in New York City should take care in reviewing their hiring policies and practices to ensure compliance with the law.

The New Law

First, this law applies to all employers, regardless of size, in New York City.

The new law prohibits employers from:

(1) “Inquiring about” an applicant’s salary history throughout the entire employment process; and/or

(2) “Relying” on the salary history of a job applicant, when determining an applicant’s salary amount at any stage in the employment process, including when negotiating a contract.

The law defines “salary history” broadly to encompass not just wages but also benefits and any other form of compensation.

It also bans employers from searching publicly available records to obtain an applicant’s salary history.

There are limited exceptions to the ban:

  • First, an employer may consider an employee’s salary history if the applicant voluntarily disclosed his or her salary history “without prompting.
  • Second, an employer may discuss salary, benefits and other compensation expectations with the employee as long as the employer does not inquire about salary history.
  • Third, the definition of “salary history” does not include any “objective measure” of the applicant’s productivity, such as revenue, sales, or other production reports.

The amendment also excludes: (1) employers acting pursuant to a law authorizing the disclosure or verification of salary history for employment purposes; (2) current employees applying for internal promotions or transfers; or (3) public employee positions for which compensation is determined pursuant to procedures established by collective bargaining.

If an employer is found to have violated the law, the New York City Commission on Human Rights may impose a civil penalty of up to $125,000 for an unintentional violation and up to $250,000 if the violation is willful and malicious. In addition to civil penalties, an individual who is successful in a civil lawsuit may recover compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.

New York City Commission on Human Rights Fact Sheets

With the effective date of the amendment looming, the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued two fact sheets−one directed to employers and one directed to job applicants − summarizing the key provisions and exceptions to the law. The fact sheets do provide a few illustrative examples that aid in interpreting the law:

  • The employer fact sheet clarifies that the law applies to all employers in New York City regardless of size.
  • The “job applicant” fact sheet states that “most applicants” are protected, regardless of whether the position is full-time or part-time.
  • The law applies to internships as well as independent contractors who do not have their own employees.
  • The fact sheet does not clarify whether the law applies to nonresident applicants. However, we would not advise taking a chance on this. All New York City job applicants should be considered covered.

Guidance for Employers

In advance of the law’s October 31, 2017, effective date, employers should do the following:

  • Review and Revise Forms and Portals – Remove any inquiries regarding salary history from employment applications, background check forms, online portals, or any other forms used during the hiring process.
  • Train – Inform not just recruiting and those in HR, but everyone who gets involved in the interview process, to refrain from directly questioning applicants about their salary histories.
  • Inform contractors and vendors – Employers need to communicate these new obligations to third parties or outside vendors who participate in the hiring process, such as placement firms, temp agencies and recruiters and confirm that contractors and vendors are in compliance with the law.
    • Put these instructions in writing, so you have proof you have told your contractors they need to comply with the law.
  • Background Checks – It is imperative that background checks exclude any inquiries regarding salary history. This is particularly important, since employers who use third-party vendors for background checks typically only see the results of the background check rather than the initial inquiries posed to an applicant. Again, tell your vendors to follow the law.
  • Job postings – If you are posting on job sites like Monster, etc., make sure there are no requests for salary information on those sites.

Continue Reading

No Summer Breaks for the EEOC

This post was written by Barbara E. Hoey and originally posted on Kelley Drye’s Labor Days Blog.

As many of us settle into September, with fond memories of our summer vacations, do not think that the federal agencies were on a hiatus. In fact and despite predictions that the EEOC under the new administration would be less aggressive in enforcing the discrimination laws, the Commission has been very active and did not take much of a summer vacation.

A survey of recent enforcement actions brought and settlement by the EEOC illustrate that the agency is still aggressively prosecuting cases, and continues to be focused on several key areas namely: combatting disability discrimination, proper accommodations and treatment of pregnant employees, and claims of systemic gender discrimination in company policies.

EEOC Sues Accuses Employer of Firing Worker With Breast Cancer
In late August, the EEOC sued the Illinois Action for Children (IAC), alleging that the IAC unlawfully fired an employee who was out on leave for breast cancer treatment, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

This case highlights the danger of standing behind a strict leave policy and denying requests for leave extensions.

The plaintiff, Myrnie Brown, had worked for the IAC for two years, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and requested, and was granted, a leave that would span June through October 1, 2015. She later requested an extension of that leave to November when her doctor ordered follow-up treatments. IAC denied that extension and fired Brown.

Interestingly, Brown was eventually rehired, but had been out of a job for over 6 months. Clearly, the rehiring did not save the day for the IAC, as the EEOC contends that it failed to accommodate Brown by not considering an extension of the leave as a reasonable accommodation.

EEOC Chicago district regional attorney Greg Gochanour said, “Anyone suffering from breast cancer has enough to face and overcome without her employer violating federal law and denying her adequate leave to combat her illness. When such a situation sadly occurs, the EEOC is ready to step in and fight for people who are fighting discrimination as well as cancer.”

– We will have to wait and see where that case goes. Continue Reading

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