OSHA Hot Topics
- Workplace Violence: OSHA introduced a new program focusing on the prevention of violence in the workplace, urging employers to examine their emergency action plans and plan for contingencies such as violent ex-spouses of employees or ex-employees showing up at the workplace.
- Expansion of OSHA’s Whistleblower Program: OSHA recently unveiled a new whistleblower website, www.whistleblowers.gov, to encourage employee reporting of retaliation claims.
- Recordkeeping Emphasis: OSHA presumes many employers are habitually not recording workplace injuries, and have directed its inspectors to inspect and scrutinize employers’ OSHA 300 logs during inspections.
- Expanded Rulemaking Agenda: OSHA indicated in 2013 that it intends to aggressively publish new and updated OSHA regulations in administrative rulemaking, including publication of new rules to regulate combustible dust and require employers to create, implement and maintain written injury and illness prevention programs (called “I2P2” by OSHA). In late August, OSHA announced and published an updated silica exposure regulation, the first update to the standard in over 40 years.
OSHA Enforcement in the Printing Ink Industry
Hazard Communication Implementation of GHS
Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)
Changes You Need to Know
Labeling Requirements, No More MSDS
- Prescription medications. All prescription medications, no matter how benign, trigger recordability. Even an antibiotic prescribed solely as a preventative measure.
- Unfilled prescriptions. In OSHA’s eyes, once the doctor prescribes the medication, the visit goes beyond observation and counseling, regardless of whether the employee agrees or not. But in certain circumstances, an employer can send the employee to a another doctor for a second opinion on the need for medical treatment, and then decide which recommendation is the most authoritative and record the case based on that recommendation.
- Reductions. Popping a dislocated finger back into place, regardless of whether done by a physician or the employee himself, does not qualify as “first aid” and is recordable.
- Dentures and prosthetics. If an employee was, for example, struck by an object that damaged his dentures but nothing else (and would have smashed his original teeth if he had them), the incident would not be recordable. Damage to eye glasses, canes, and prosthetic arms or legs also are not recordable.
- Determining whether an injury is work-related can be even more difficult. OSHA broadly defines “work related” if an event or exposure in the work environment contributed to a resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. But OSHA has several quirky exceptions, all located within section 1904.5, including:
- An employee checking into a hotel on a business trip creates a “home away from home,” whereupon any injuries suffered in the room are not work related;
- But employees on a business trip perishing in a commercial airline disaster qualifies as a work-related injury, in spite of the fact the employer has no control over the airliner;
- An employee getting into an auto accident in the company parking lot is not work related, but an employee spraining her ankle in the parking lot on her way in is work related;
- Injuries at company-sponsored recreational events, like softball games, company picnics, etc., are not work-related, unless attendance is compulsory. In that case, tearing your ACL while throwing out the tying runner at the company softball game is a work-related injury.
- Self-inflicted injuries are not work related, but OSHA considers an employee breaking his hand after smashing it into a cabinet (upon hearing news of a layoff) to be recordable. The employee, OSHA reasoned, reacted without thought of injuring himself.