OSHA Beryllium Rule Lowering Exposure Limits Takes Effect, But It Faces Uncertain Future

Regulation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to reduce worker exposures to beryllium “to prevent chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer” took effect on May 20, 2017. An OSHA spokesperson said on May 22, however, that the agency received a petition to stay the effective date, which it is reviewing. The spokesperson pointed out that while OSHA considers the stay petition, the March 2018 enforcement date has not been changed.  To read the full article, written by Carla Gunnin, click here.

OSHA to Extend Electronic Recordkeeping Compliance Date

In an email sent today to stakeholders, OSHA announced that it intends to delay the July 1, 2017 compliance date for the electronic submission of the 2016 Form 300A.  As part of the final rule, Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses issued in May 2016, employers  had a phased in compliance deadline for the electronic submission of recordkeeping forms.  For 2017, employers with establishments with 250 or more employees and establishments with less than 250 employees but 20 or more in certain high-risk industries were required to electronically submit their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017.  However, the secure website that OSHA intended to use for the submission of these recordkeeping forms has not been made available.

In the email, OSHA stated,

OSHA intends to extend the initial date by which certain employers are required to electronically submit their injury and illness logs.  The Recordkeeping Rule currently requires certain employers to submit the information from their completed 2016 Form 300A to OSHA electronically by July 1, 2017.  The proposal will extend this to a later date.  Currently, we do not have any additional information about the timeline for this.  We will let you know as additional information, including a proposed extension date, is available.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

Two Massachusetts Companies Operated as Single Employer, OSHA Judge Finds, Upholds Citations

Two Massachusetts contractors were operating as a single employer at a worksite in Massachusetts when at least two employees of a roofing crew fell from a wooden plank in October 2014, an Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission administrative law judge has ruled.  To read the full article, written by Brad Hammock, click here.

OSHA Rescinds Union Walk Around Letter

In February 2013, OSHA issued an interpretation letter in response to a request from the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, which clarified that employees at a non-union worksite could elect to have a non-employee who is “affiliated with a union” or with a “community organization” to act as their walk-around representative during OSHA inspections.  This clarification was based on the Agency’s interpretation of § 1903.8(c) which allows a third-party, such as an industrial hygienist or safety engineer to accompany an OSHA compliance officer during an inspection, when the compliance officer believes there is “good cause” for the third-party to be present.

OSHA expanded this regulation to permit union representatives to accompany OSHA during inspections of non-union worksites.  OSHA claimed that the regulation allowed such third parties when it was“reasonably necessary.” For example, when they will make a positive contribution the inspection, in cases where the representative has experience and skill in evaluating similar working conditions, or when he or she is fluent in the language of non-English speaking workers and would facilitate useful interactions between the compliance officer and the workers.

This interpretation letter was recently challenged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas alleging that OSHA’s interpretation of this regulation was an expansion of the regulation and should have required public notice and comment rulemaking.  In early February, the Court denied, in part, OSHA’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.  In denying the Agency’s motion the Court signaled that it agreed the interpretation letter was improper Agency action and should have been promulgated by public notice and an opportunity to provide comment.

On April 27, 2017, the legal challenge was voluntarily dismissed since OSHA had agreed to rescind the interpretation letter and remove the guidance from its Field Operations Manual.

The interpretation letter is now marked as “OSHA Archived” and is no longer the policy of the agency.