Cal-OSHA Moves to Align with Federal OSHA Construction Fall Protection Requirements

Consistent with its edict to other state plans, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has instructed California to bring its construction fall protection requirements into line with federal OSHA construction fall protection requirements which requires fall protection for employees working in above a height of 6 feet. Currently, California does not have specific regulations for residential construction. Fall protection is decided based on the task being performed with the lowest trigger height being 7.5 feet. Neither California’s construction industry, nor any of the state’s unions are expressing the need to adopt the federal 6-foot trigger, especially in light of California’s lower fall injury rates compared with the rest of the country. However, on January 21st, the California Safety and Health Standards Board agreed to make compliance with federal construction fall protection standards a top priority, without saying how it will do this.

OSHA Sets Hearing Date on Proposal to Drastically Limit Beryllium Exposure

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will hold an informal hearing to gather testimony on a comprehensive agency proposal on worker exposure to beryllium. The proposal would cut the permissible exposure limit (PEL) tenfold and impose employer mandates. To read the full article, written by Henry Chajet, click here.

Latest OSHA News

Fatality and serious injury reporting to OSHA has expanded, but can now be done online. Under reporting rules that went into effect in January 2015, employers must notify OSHA of a work-related fatality within eight hours and of a work-related hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye within 24 hours. https://www.osha.gov/report.html

Report a Fatality or Severe Injury

  • All employers are required to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.
  • A fatality must be reported within 8 hours.
  • An in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss must be reported within 24 hours.

To Make a Report

  • Call the nearest OSHA office.
  • Call the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).
  • Report online.

Be prepared to supply: Business name; names of employees affected; location and time of the incident; brief description of the incident; and contact person and phone number.

OSHA and FAA Agree to Increased Cooperation and Information Sharing to Protect Aviation Whistleblowers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration have executed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding the enforcement of the whistleblower provisions in the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21) (49 U.S.C. § 42121), a law enacted in 2000 to improve air safety. To read the full article, written by Erik Dullea, click here.

OSHA Launches the Serious Event Reporting Online Form

On January 1, 2015, the new injury and illness reporting requirements went into effect requiring employers to report to OSHA fatalities as a result of a work-related incident within 8 hours, and in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, or loss of an eye as a result of a work-related incident within 24 hours. The new reporting requirement allowed employers to report to OSHA by:

  • Calling OSHA’s free and confidential number at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
  • Calling your closest Area Office during normal business hours.
  • Using the new online form.

The online form has only recently become available as a method of reporting. The “Serious Event Reporting Online Form” can now be found at https://www.osha.gov/report.html . States under Federal OSHA jurisdiction and those states with State Plans for the Public Sector can use the form but most states with State Plans for both Public and Private Sectors cannot use the form yet.

When reporting using the form, the first step is a validation check – employers are asked to “Enter State of Event to determine reporting requirements.” After the validation check, the form either opens or state-specific information is provided.

One of the Frequently Asked Questions on OSHA’s webpage is:

Q: If the Area Office is closed, may I report the incident by leaving a message on OSHA’s answering machine, faxing the Area Office, or sending an e-mail?

A:  No, if the Area Office is closed, you must report the fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye using the 800 number (1-800-321-6742).

Section 1904.39(b)(1) clearly notes that the online reporting form may also be used to report an incident when the Area Office is closed:

[I]f Area Office is closed, you must report the fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye using either the 800 number or the reporting application located on OSHA’s public Web site at www.osha.gov.

29 C.F.R. §1904.39(b)(1)(emphasis added)

Employers should be aware before starting the online form that they will need to provide some specific information regarding the incident, its location, information about what happened and when it happened, and contact information for the company and for each of the victims. Without answering all the asterisked questions on the form, the submission will be rejected.

Feds Launch Initiative to Toughen Penalties for Worker Safety Violations

In a new enforcement effort involving the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the federal government is launching an initiative aimed at putting more bite into penalties for alleged worker safety violations. To read the full article, written by Avi Meyerstein, click here.

OSHA’s Withdrawal of Slips, Trips and Falls Rule May Harm Defenses to Citations

OSHA first proposed a rule on Slips, Trips and Falls in 1990.  Since that time, many employers have taken advantage of this proposed rule in making certain arguments related to Citations issued under Subpart D, the Walking-Working Surfaces regulations.  If you never used this argument, you may be wondering how a proposed rule could help an employer arguing against a Citation issued under a current regulation.  OSHA has long recognized that compliance with a proposed rule, such as OSHA’s Slips, Trips and Falls Rule would be considered a de minimis violation.

See, e.g. https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=27295

Why is a de minimis a “good” violation to receive?  De Minimis violations carry no penalty or requirement for abatement.  It, in essence, sanctions the status quo of the cited condition.  With the withdrawal of this rule, after being in existence for over 25 years, employers will no longer be able to rely upon compliance with this proposed rule.  The OSHA interpretation referenced above is one of many similar letters that refer to the proposed rule and the de minimis language.  It remains to be seen what OSHA will do with these letters now that there is no longer a proposed rule.  Stay tuned….

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