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Today, the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued a standard interpretation clarifying its position on the new recordkeeping rule’s anti-retaliation provisions. OSHA’s memorandum essentially “rolls back” its enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions, particularly concerning safety incentive programs and post-accident drug testing. Why is this important? Mainly because many employers struggled to understand the anti-retaliation provisions since they were published, in guidance materials accompanying the new regulations, in May 2016. Indeed, OSHA has gone to great lengths to explain the anti-retaliation provisions in the new rule’s preamble, with OSHA guidance and several memorandums. To be blunt, OSHA’s explanations have been extremely vague and confusing. But alas, the struggle to understand the anti-retaliation provisions is over … hopefully. Today’s interpretation states supersedes all the prior guidance on this topic.

The 11th Circuit Court upheld the Mar-Jac decision quashing a warrant to expand an inspection beyond the accident triggering the inspection. The decision demonstrates the willingness of at least one Circuit to carefully scrutinize OSHA's justification for expanding the scope of an Inspection.

We're daily seeing Unions and other Third Parties use Safety and OSHA Complaints to harm an Employer's reputation and compel union recognition or economic concessions. Now UNITE-HERE is portraying Marriott's "Go Green" effort as a danger to employees. We fear that employers are not seriously considering this potential public harassment either by checking safety efforts or making response plans in advance.

FP has prepared Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) since Hurricane Katrina. Each year, we learn new things or of new problems and revise the FAQs further. We cover more than safety, although safety may be the longest section. Employees are injured and killed performing nonroutine clean-up and maintenance activities, including falls, carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators, electrical, and bloodborne pathogens illnesses from filthy flood waters. We discuss leave, unemployment comp, wage-hour  and a host of other issues. Please don't be caught unprepared.

As we remember and honor those that fell on 9/11 and in the years since, we should also commit ourselves and our businesses to better plan for disasters. Indeed, in recognition of the beginning of the storm season, September is National Preparedness Month, with OSHA, FEMA and others mounting campaigns to get businesses (and individuals) to pause, do a What-if Analysis, and then take steps to protect employees, maintain business operations, or restore them.

At a recent national safety conference for the industry, the acting head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) remarked that the agency is focusing on the use of peracetic acid in the poultry industry. 

NIOSH's 2016 study showing that 25% of construction deaths result from traumatic brain injury generated about a year of public discussion and articles about switching to helmets instead of traditional hardhats. These helmets look like sports climbers' hats, and are usually manufactured by sports-related companies. And then, we heard no more .... It turns out that interest did not wane. Contractors simply stopped talking and some notable players started switching to safety helmets. So let's review these safety helmets a bit.

Elaine Benes loved poppy seed muffins. That is, until she failed a drug test at work for opium. That’s right. As Peterman said, “White Lotus. Yam-yam. Shanghai-Sally.” Elaine did not lose her job, but she was not allowed to accompany Peterman on his trip to Africa.

OSHA Area Offices do not yet have the crucial Directive to replace the Interim Directive (Guidance) on Construction Silica enforcement, so enforcement is not yet aggressive. However, with the recent release of OSHA Construction Silica Training Videos and the new Construction Silica FAQs, OSHA is putting employers on notice of their expectations. Don't be caught unaware.

It’s August, and it’s hot outside. Even Congress, which has a high tolerance for hot air, is taking a month’s long recess to avoid the hot and humid DC swamp. This has not stopped the lobbying process, however, as Public Citizen and dozens of other advocacy groups filed a petition to OSHA to initiate the rulemaking process to develop a federal heat exposure standard. Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) has stated she plans to introduce related legislation soon.

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