OSHA announced yesterday (http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=19158) that it has temporarily withdrawn from review by the OMB its proposal to restore a column for work-related musculoskeletal disorders on employer injury and illness logs citing the need “to seek greater input from small businesses.”
In recognition of OSHA’s decision yesterday not to reconfigure its interpretation of occupational noise standards (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZGWQauQOAQ) (and since we played hooky from the blog during our snow sabbatical), we have an unprecedented “threefer” for you.
This week the United States Department of Labor is hosting a series of Q&A sessions regarding its “Plan/Prevent/Protect” regulatory agenda via webcast. (Here’s the link to the schedule: http://www.dol.gov/regulations/.) While all of this may seem wonky (and it is), everyone needs to start paying attention to items like the Office of Labor-Management Standards’ plans to issue a rule to narrow the application of the “advice exemption” of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (i.e., an effort to require more disclosure of employer spending with outside consultants on union avoidance). As they say, the devil is in the details.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of worker fatalities, and distracted driving increases the risk of such accidents. Texting is the distraction of all distractions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the risk of a crash for a driver who is texting is more than 23 times higher than an undistracted driver. President Obama has signed an executive order banning texting by federal employees while driving government vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued regulatory guidance prohibiting commercial vehicle drivers from texting. Now OSHA has entered the fight against texting while driving. (Here and here.)
Last week, I called out the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for its failure to seriously consider whether the National Football League is violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Based on a recent article in the Washington Post, no one should hold his breath until OSHA investigates the NFL. The agency is way behind with other duties it’s supposed to perform.
Only two weeks into the National Football League season, and pro football injuries are occurring at an unusually fast rate. Can you imagine what would happen if these injuries were happening at a manufacturing plant, a construction site, or a chemical company? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration would be investigating full throttle and issuing citations like hotcakes.
Last week, I had a post about the restaurant server who filed a claim with the Tennessee Occupational Safety Health Administration, contending that Tennessee’s law allowing registered gun owners to bring their guns into restaurants and bars that serve alcohol violated TOSHA. Why? Allowing guns to be brought into places that serve alcohol creates a dangerous and unsafe workplace for employees who work in the restaurants and bars because of the threat of violence.
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited SeaWorld of Florida for various safety violations, including one classified as willful, in connection with the death of an animal trainer. A six-ton killer whale grabbed the trainer and pulled her under water. Video footage shows the whale repeatedly striking and thrashing the trainer, pulling the trainer under water as she attempted to escape. An autopsy said the trainer had died of drowning and traumatic injuries.
Like a few other states, Tennessee has a law on the books that permits registered gun owners to bring their guns into establishments serving alcohol. A server in a Nashville restaurant has filed an anonymous complaint with the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration claiming that mixing guns with alcohol creates an unsafe work environment under TOSHA.
Anyone up for a job with the above warning attached? There are lots, of course, in the National Football League. Although the NFL has always downplayed the harm caused by head injuries, it’s finally putting out notices and brochures that comport with overwhelming medical and scientific evidence. Concussions, particularly multiple (two or more) concussions, cause permanent brain damage. The league continues, however, to take a hard line on disability claims of former players who now have dementia and related-conditions.
As widely reported, at least 25 miners have died in a West Virginia mine explosion. The Mine Safety and Health Administraton (similar to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, except it has jurdisdiction over mining safety and accidents) has already started an investigation of this tragedy. Most employers are regulated by OSHA when it comes to matters of safety and health.
There’s a growing body of evidence that layoffs — or even “persistent perceived job insecurity” — can adversely affect employee health and life expectancy. A recent New York Times article details the travails of laid-off steelworkers in New York. If an employee has a heart attack and dies after being laid off, is the employer liable?
As reported by the Los Angeles Times (click here, here, and here), 2009 ended with gun violence in the workplace. A former employee of the gaming commission near San Diego burst into the executive director’s office and killed him with a shotgun. The former employee then committed suicide.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has recently updated its Employment Law Guide: Laws, Regulations, and Technical Assistance Services. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but it is a handy reference for basic laws enforced by the DOL. It’s not a substitute for legal advice when complex issues arise under these laws.
A couple of days ago, I did a post about a non-traditional way of promoting workplace safety. The New York Times reports on the more traditional way: blowing the whistle on unsafe working conditions. Stories like this one always raise the question of whether whistle-blowing is for the noble or the foolish.
When we think of efforts to promote worker safety, we think of investigations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and resulting fines. The settlement of a lawsuit in Ohio filed against Cintas Corp. calls attention to a possible new way of taking action about safety issues in the workplace.
Many employers have their own security departments. The Wall Street Journal reports that whether an employer has a security department or not, it’s time for all employees to take responsibility for providing security for the employer and each other. Stickups and burglaries are increasing at all kinds of businesses.
I’ve done a post on this subject before. Although some would like for the subject to go away, it obviously isn’t. If anything, it’s receiving more attention than ever.
The 14th annual Advanced Employment Issues Symposium (AEIS) is underway in Nashville, I again have the privilege of serving as moderator. The program will be repeated in Las Vegas on October 29-30. Call M. Lee Smith Publishers at 1-800-274-6774 for more information. Here’s a taste of what you can choose from if you attend.