OSHA’s Anti-retaliation Requirements Come Into Force on Nov. 1
Earlier this year, OSHA issued a final rule that will require some employers to electronically submit data from their injury and illness records to OSHA, so they can then be posted on the agency’s website. Although OSHA hopes that the rule will help researchers and encourage employers to prevent future injuries and illnesses in the workplace, the agency also believes that some employers may attempt to prevent employees from reporting incidents.
As a result, three major anti-retaliation provisions have been included in the final rule, and are scheduled to come into force on Nov. 1, 2016.
The anti-retaliation provisions include two major requirements for employers:
- Employers must inform their employees that they have a right to report work-related injuries and illness without any form of retaliation.
- Employers must ensure that “reasonable” procedures are in place for employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses. According to the final rule, a procedure will be considered reasonable as long as it does not discourage employees from reporting injuries or illnesses.
The anti-retaliation provisions also have an impact on an employer’s ability to perform blanket drug tests on employees following a work-related injury. OSHA has stated that blanket testing policies would require testing even for injuries or illnesses that may have no connection to the use of drugs or alcohol, and that employees may be deterred from reporting injuries and illnesses if they must submit to drug testing.
As a result, you should be sure to examine your business’s procedures for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses, as well as your drug testing policies, to ensure that you will be in compliance with OSHA’s final rule. For more information, contact us at 703-777-8899; we can supply you with our full compliance bulletin on OSHA’s anti-retaliation provisions.
OSHA and DOT Clarify Hazardous Chemical Labeling Requirements
OSHA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have separate requirements for labeling hazardous chemicals, which can make it difficult to know how containers should be labeled. However, the two agencies recently released a memorandum to clarify when and where both sets of labeling requirements apply.
The DOT’s hazardous chemical labeling requirements can be found in the U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) and apply to the transportation of hazardous materials in commerce, such as when chemicals are sold and transported to a buyer. OSHA’s labeling requirements, found in the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), are specific to the workplace. However, the DOT’s HMR requirements specify that its label must be separate, since an accompanying label could be confused for or conflict with the DOT’s label.
The recent memorandum states that a label can accompany another label meeting the DOT’s requirements if it conforms to an international standard—the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). As a result, businesses can use two hazardous chemical labels to meet the requirements of both the DOT and OSHA, as long as the label that meets OSHA’s requirements also falls under the standards of the GHS. To view the full memorandum, visit OSHA’s website.
Ammonia Leak Led to a Worker’s Death at Seafood Wholesaler
A worker at Stavis Seafoods Inc. died after a burst pipe led to an ammonia leak. A subsequent OSHA inspection found that a deficient design and a lack of proper maintenance for the company’s ammonia refrigeration system exposed employees to ammonia hazards. Additionally, Stavis Seafoods failed to label ammonia piping, provide a ventilation system in the event of a leak and maintain an alarm system to warn employees of a dangerous amount of ammonia.
For these and other safety violations, OSHA cited Stavis Seafoods for 20 “serious” violations with proposed fines of over $170,000. For information on keeping your employees safe from hazardous chemicals, contact Kelly Insurance Agency today.
OSHA Proposes Numerous Revisions to Streamline and Improve Standards
As part of an ongoing campaign to revise standards that it considers confusing or outdated, OSHA has proposed 18 changes to recordkeeping, general industry, maritime and construction standards.
According to the agency, the proposed revisions are based on responses to a public request for information and recommendations from OSHA staff members. Additionally, it’s estimated that the revisions would save employers approximately $3.2 million each year.
The revisions include changes to rules on lockout/tagout, permissible exposure limits (PELs), personal protective equipment (PPE) and more. For the full list of proposed changes, visit OSHA’s summary of the revisions.