Keeping up with labor laws can be a daunting task. Changes seem to occur almost daily. And while this isn’t actually the case, it can sure feel that way. Changes to federal labor laws do not happen quite as frequent as those at the state level as a general rule. But in times of uncertainty, as we experienced with Covid in 2020, even federal labor laws can be enacted quickly as we saw with the passing of the CARES Act. The laws created by the CARES Act were of a temporary nature with many of the requirements ending in December of 2020. Most changes to labor laws are not temporary though. We find states often update various laws throughout the year. Some of those changes are considered minor such as address changes, website address changes, or department personnel changes. Other changes are considered major such as increases in minimum wages, newly enacted laws, and major changes to the text of an existing law.
Midyear often brings about many of those changes. The most common change is a state’s Minimum Wage. Although the Federal Minimum Wage has not increased since July 2009, many states, cities, and counties have a higher minimum wage. (Employers are required to pay workers the higher amount.)
The following states have mid-year minimum wage increases:
To keep up with the most current changes to the federal labor laws as well as your state labor laws you can sign up for a free email update service. Simply click here to enroll: https://www.nsccompliance.net/llp-updates/
Published hard copies of CFR (Code of Federal Regulation) are useful to have in the field or on the floor. They work well as a quick reference to identify and cite potential OSHA violations or as a guide to spot areas where worker protections could be improved while crafting updated safety plans and avoiding costly fines.
A published CFR is only as useful as its contents remain relevant. Edits are made to the codification of rules in the Federal Register frequently. Some of the changes are small—clarifications, small tweaks to tables, editing for conciseness—but ultimately do not modify the rule in a significant way.
However, critical updates and major changes to rules do occur with relative frequency. If your print copy of 29 CFR 1910 or 20 CFR 1926 hasn’t been updated in a while, you may be missing crucial information.
We know that comparing everything that has changed can be a challenge. That’s why we’re here to make checking this round of CFR updates simple. This guide will cover and summarize only major changes from January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2020.
Changes to 29 CFR 1910 Occupational Health and Safety Standards for General Industry in 2018 – 2020
§1910.134 Respiratory protection
Several key changes were made to the Respiratory Protection Standard that applies not only to general industry but also shipyards, marine terminals, long shoring, and construction. These changes add new sections C.4 and C.5, as well as Appendix A on Fit Testing Procedures.
2021 additions to 29 CFR 1910.134 Respiratory Protection Standard include:
Updates to fit test exercises. Now, it is required for employers to perform fit tests for all methods listed in the appendix, except for the two modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol, CNP quantitative fit testing protocol and the CNP redon quantitative fit testing protocol. In regards to the two modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing, they have their own exercises listed in Part I.C(4)b, Part I.C.5(b), or Part I.C.(6) for full or half-mask elastomeric respirators or for filtering facepiece respirators.
A full protocol for Modified Ambient Aerosol CNC Quantitative Fit Testing Protocols for Full-Facepiece and Half-Mask Elastomeric Respirators is now included in Table A-1.
A full protocol for Modified Ambient Aerosol CNC Quantitative Fit Testing has been added to Table A-2.
The beryllium standard for general industry was updated to better align the regulations with industry needs and the rules outlined in other beryllium standards like 1926.1124. The most recent updates are effective as of September 14, 2020.
Recent additions to 29 CFR 1910.1024 Beryllium Standard include:
Defines beryllium sensitization, an immune response found in people who have been exposed to airborne beryllium that can lead to CBD (chronic beryllium disease).
Updates the method of compliance to state more broadly “exposure” instead of “airborne exposure or dermal contact.”
Personal protective equipment must now be removed once the worker has completed their beryllium-related task, not at the end of their shift.
If employees have skin exposed to beryllium, they must wash the exposed skin at designated times.
Personal protective equipment must have beryllium cleaned off as much as possible before entering or using an area where workers will be eating or drinking
Changes to 29 CFR 1926 General Industry in 2018 – 2020
§1926.1427 Cranes and Derricks in Construction Operator Qualifications
This major change was released in two parts with the qualifications and certifications going into effect December 10, 2018, and amendments (a) and (f) on evaluation and documentation requirements went into effect on February 7, 2019.
Updates for 2021 to 29 CFR 1926.1427 Cranes and Derricks in Construction Operator Qualifications Standard include:
Crane certification is no longer by capacity, instead, it must be by type as defined by the accredited certifying organization.
Employers must have all operators certified under new rules by December 10, 2018, at the employers’ expense.
Certified operators must then be qualified on the equipment they use in their workplace, otherwise, they are considered an operator-in-training and cannot work without direct supervision from a qualified trainer.
A qualified person must be either an employee or an agent of the employer with the knowledge and experience necessary to direct in-training operators.
A qualified person must be in the field of vision and watch the operator-in-training closely.
Evaluations are conducted to ensure the operator can perform work safely on their assigned equipment.
Evaluations are conducted to ensure the operator has mastered all necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to avert risks and safely perform work duties using their assigned equipment.
§1926.1124 Beryllium in Construction and Shipyards
The most recent changes to the rules for Beryllium in Construction went into effect on 9/30/2020, however, the standard has been updated several times since 2018, mostly for clarity and to better align with adjacent rules in 29 CFR 1910 General Industry.
Leading up to these rule changes, in 2017 OSHA published a rule about occupational exposure to beryllium and its compounds in the Federal Register that conclude it posed a significant risk to the health of workers with the potential to lead to lung disease or cancer when exposures went beyond permissible exposure limits (PELs). Contact with this material happens often in shipyards and during welding. The new rules set out to fit the needs of construction and shipyard workers specifically and align their standards to the general industry standards, as well as provide clarification.
Modifications to the 29 CFR 1926.1124 Beryllium in Construction and Shipyards Standard include:
Specified definition of Beryllium sensitization, which is an immune response in people exposed to beryllium. While it is often symptomless it is the first step to developing CBD (chronic beryllium disease).
Pulmonologists in CBD medical diagnostic centers are no longer required to be on-site, but simply on staff.
The written exposure control plan for beryllium now must contain a list of operations and job titles who are expected to work with beryllium, engineering controls, means of protection from exposure, a list of PPE (personal protective equipment) used, as well as procedures for restricting access during work exposures, procedures to contain exposure and procedures for cleanup.
Engineering rules have been simplified to state that engineers must be used by employers to reduce and maintain beryllium exposure below the TWA PEL and STEL unless provably unfeasible.
In-writing notification of airborne exposure of beryllium to housekeeping staff is no longer required. Instead, in any operation that could result in airborne dust, the workers must be provided with personal protective equipment if it will result in airborne exposure above TWA PEL or STEL levels.
When beryllium is disposed of or transported to another entity, written warnings are no longer required.
Physician evaluations at CBD diagnostic centers must include tests for pulmonary function, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and transbronchial biopsy if deemed necessary.
Warning labels on containers contaminated with beryllium are no longer required.
Employees now are only required to be trained in beryllium safety if they are reasonably thought to have airborne exposure—skin exposure is now excluded.
This standard was updated with the new paragraph (18) which clarifies that flash-butt welding trucks that are not equipped with hoisting devices are defined as roadway maintenance machines and are used for railroad track work, as defined in 49 CFR 214.7.
Benefits and features of CFR books
Government agencies like OSHA must remain nimble to continue to improve processes that protect workers’ health and safety while balancing the needs of employers. So, when it comes to construction and general industry, the Code of Federal Regulations are known to change frequently.
Published CFR books from National Safety Compliance can help you stay informed on industry changes, within your work floor, construction site, or office and keeping your employees safe. These current publications are also an excellent guide for developing or updating your facility’s safety plan.
Our publications are released often and are designed to be user-friendly, with additional features to help you answer questions quickly and effectively.
Annual Updates and Corrections
Every change made to the CFR in the past few years is included in the front of the book, even if it is a minor grammatical change. This will help you quickly identify any standards that may need a refresher, retraining, or trigger a safety plan update.
Most Frequently Cited Standards
Our CFR books contain the most frequently cited standards from OSHA from the previous year. This can help you see where your industry peers may have gaps in their safety plans and check the standards against your facility’s practices.
This information is found prior to the start of each subpart.
Letters of Interpretation
Letters of Interpretation are an excellent resource that you may not normally be aware of. These letters are responses from OSHA to public questions about important topics like terminology, interpretation, and enforcement of particular laws. If there are Letters of Interpretation available to help clarify a standard, we include an icon in our book so you know to look it up on osha.gov
Additional Parts of Title 29 & General Duty
We include additional parts of Title 29 outside of 1910 and 1926 that are relevant to our users, such as Inspections, Citations, and Proposed Penalties from 29 CFR 1903 and CFR 1904 Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.
Also included for quick reference is the General Duty clause, which is OSHA’s catch-all for hazardous or dangerous situations in a workplace. If there isn’t a specific standard the violation falls under, it goes under General Duty.
The 2021 Edition of 29 CFR 1910 General Industry and 29 CFR 1926 Construction books from National Safety Compliance are available in print or digital PDF formats. To ensure your facility is always in compliance, protect your workers, and avoid costly fines, make sure safety management, supervisors, and human resources directors have easy access to the right training, materials, and resources to protect your workers and business.
Recently, we wrote about the most current minimum wage changes that took place this year. As of January 13, there have been 26 minimum wage changes across the U.S. Today, we will discuss some of the newest labor law changes that could affect your business. With these changes come changes to the required postings. To see a list of all the changes on a state-by-state basis visit Most Recent Labor Law Changes. In this article we will discuss just a few of the updates. You can sign-up to receive email updates regarding labor law changes and the accompanying required posting(s) on our Labor Law Poster Update Notifications page. Click on your state and enter your email address just above the subscribe button.
Many people have inquired about the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act that required certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19. That posting was effective only thru December 31, 2021. As of this writing, there has not been an extension to that law. (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd). Stay connected and we will keep you up to date of any new changes that may take affect.
Here is a summary of just a few of the state changes:
Effective January 1, 2021, this bill expands the California Family Rights Act to include employers with 5 or more employees. It also expands the list of reasons for taking family or medical leave and includes taking leave to bond with a new child of the employee or to care for themselves or a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner, as specified. It requires an employer who employs both parents of a child to grant leave to each employee and make it an unlawful employment practice for any employer to refuse to grant a request by an employee to take up to 12 work-weeks of unpaid protected leave during any 12-month period due to a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States.
Colorado:Healthy Families & Workplace Act (Colorado Workplace Public Health Rights Poster: Paid Leave, Whistleblowing & Protective Equipment)
Effective January 1, 2021, Colorado employers with more than 16 employees must provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work, up to a minimum of 48 hours. On the same posting, the Public Health Emergency Whistleblower Law (PHEW) details workers right to oppose Workplace Health/Safety violations during public health emergencies and gives workers’ rights to use their own Personal Protective Equipment.
Florida: Human Trafficking Bill, Chapter 2019-152, Laws of Florida (Human Trafficking posting)
Healthcare professionals licensed by the following Boards: Acupuncture, Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Chiropractic Medicine, Podiatric Medicine, Optometry, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Nursing Home Administration, Occupational Therapy, Dietetics and Nutrition, Respiratory Care, Massage Therapy, and Physical Therapy must complete one hour of continuing education (CE) on human trafficking and post a sign about human trafficking in their office by January 1, 2021.
Maine: Earned Paid Employee Leave Law (Regulation of Employment)
An employer that employs more than 10 employees in the usual and regular course of business for more than 120 days in any calendar year shall permit each employee to earn paid leave based on the employee’s base pay. An employee is entitled to earn one hour of paid leave from a single employer for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours in one year of employment. Accrual of leave begins at the start of employment, but the employer is not required to permit use of the leave before the employee has been employed by that employer for 120 days during a one-year period.
Massachusetts: Paid Family and Medical Leave (Notice of Benefits)
On January 1, 2021, the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) will begin providing benefits to eligible workers for qualifying reasons. Covered individuals may be entitled to up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave in a benefit year if they have a serious health condition that incapacitates them from work. They may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year related to the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child, or because of a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a family member is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call to active duty in the Armed Forces. Covered individuals may be entitled to up to 26 weeks of paid family leave in a benefit year to care for a family member who is a covered service member with a serious health condition.
Oregon: OAR 437-001-0744 (Oregon OSHA’s COVID-19 Temporary Standard for All Workplaces)
Oregon has released a Temporary COVID-19 Rule for all workplaces that is effective through May 4, 2021 unless it is revised or repealed before that date. The requirements include physical distancing, facial coverings, , workplace risk assessments and other pertinent information regarding notifying your employer and your right to notify your employer or Oregon OSHA about workplace hazards.
These are just a few of the state changes. State labor laws change throughout the year and no two states have the same requirements. It is important and (required by law) that employees are made aware of these various laws, bills, and acts. Employers must post the postings in their place of business where everyone has access to them and if there are remote workers, making them accessible to view online or by email. Labor law and the required workplace notices is an important issue and should not be ignored by any business.
Most business owners know about OSHA and the penalties that are involved when there is an injury incident at the workplace. OSHA takes workplace injuries very seriously. In 2015 President Obama signed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act which requires the DOL to annually adjust its civil monetary penalties every year to account for inflation and to increase the deterrent effect. In 2020, these fines range anywhere from $13,494 to $134,937 per violation.
What most companies do not realize, though not as serious as the OSHA workplace penalties, is there could be penalties associated with not posting the proper workplace notices. There are Federal postings and state postings, and fines vary depending on the posting and the agency that requires the posting.
According to the Dept. Of Labor’s website (www.dol.gov), the required postings and the penalties for not posting for most businesses at the Federal level are:
Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Posting: shall not exceed $13,494
Employee Rights Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA/MINIUM WAGE) Posting: No citations or penalties for failure to post
Employee Rights and Responsibilities Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Posting: 50 or more Employees – Willful refusal to post may result in a civil money penalty by the Wage and Hour Division not to exceed $100 for each separate offense.
Equal Opportunity is the Law (EEO) Posting: 15 or more employees. Appropriate contract sanctions may be imposed for uncorrected violations.
Employee Polygraph Protection Act Notice (EPPA) Posting: The Secretary of Labor can bring court actions and assess civil penalties for failing to post.
Your Rights Under USERRA Notice/Poster: No citations or penalties for failure to notify. An individual could ask DOL to investigate and seek compliance or file a private enforcement action to require the employer to provide the notice to employees.
Posting requirements vary depending on a number of variables such as:
Number of employees
Public or private business
Federal or subcontractors
Agricultural employers or businesses who hire migrant or seasonal agricultural employees
Employers who hire persons entitled to rights and benefits under USERRA.
State Labor Law Postings:
Postings required for the state and local levels vary. Each posting could carry its own fine. Every state agency and law are different. Fines can range anywhere from $100 – $1,000 per violation. Some examples of state postings include:
Workers Compensation Notices: A Notice of Compliance or Workers Compensation Notice is given to each business that carries Workman’s Compensation. Some states require this notice to be posted. This protects the employers by verifying the availability of workers comp and gives current insurance information for healthcare providers at the time of injury when claims must be reported and what to do in case of an accident.
Sexual Harassment Notices: Sexual Harassment laws have become more prevalent in recent years. Many states are adopting strict guidelines concerning the basic rules to be adhered to, training required and protections to be in place to protect both employees and the employer. Along with notices having to be posted, some states require documentation to be given to the employee at time of hire.
Discrimination Notices: Discrimination is another area that has seen an increase in states posting additional guidelines about discrimination in the workplace. The Federal Law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. Some states are now adding age, pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity marital status, and in some states, hair styles and hair textures.
Examples of other state notices would be unemployment insurance, child labor laws, human trafficking, right to know laws and earned income laws.
Employers are required to follow both federal law and applicable state laws. Sometimes different government agencies enact laws regarding the same issues or situations. Some examples where this has occurred include minimum wage, paid family leave, and discrimination laws. The U.S. Department of Labor instructs employers and employees to follow the law that provides the most protection.
Failure to display the correct state and federal employment law notices can also result in penalties, fines, and lawsuits. All of these notices must be “conspicuously placed” and “readily accessible” to employees.
Are there required inspections for Workplace Labor Law Notices?
The state or federal government rarely sends out someone just to inspect your place of business to see if you have the proper notices. If an agency, for example OSHA, is at your business because of a workplace injury, or to investigate an employee complaint, the agency could check posting compliance as part of the visit and assess any additional fines. If there is an employee complaint about sexual harassment or discrimination, the state agency, during the investigation, could check workplace notices and determine if fines are applicable.
Not only does having the proper postings keep your business from being fined. There are also other advantages for having your labor law posters up to date. Some postings, such as the Federal Discrimination posting, has a statute of limitations for filing a claim (300 days) or FLSA overtime case (two years), so if you are up to date on your postings, you could potentially request to have the case removed. On the other hand, if you do not have a posting or it is outdated, the courts could say the statute of limitations does not apply because you did not notify your employees about their legal rights and responsibilities.
National Safety Compliance is committed to keeping you up to date on the most recent federal and state changes and posting requirements for your business. The information contained in this blog cannot be considered as legal advice. It is provided for general information only. Contactthe U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) or your state’s Labor Department or agency for legal advice.
Remember when the big story last year in labor law was increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour? While that is still an issue being discussed, as we get closer to 2021, one of the most asked business questions now is what changes will be required due to COVID-19? This pandemic has impacted businesses all over the world, not only in the way we work but also in what laws/regulations or protocols businesses must have in place.
While there are no standards currently written specifically for COVID-19, OSHA has outlined that certain regulations could be used to help prevent the spread of the virus. These standards include Bloodborne Pathogens, Personal Protective Equipment, Respiratory Protection, and the General Duty Clause. To reduce the impact of pandemics such as COVID-19 on businesses, workers, customers, and the public, it is vital to prepare and to plan. Measures for protecting workers from exposure and infection depend on the type of work being performed and exposure risk, including potential for interaction with people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and contamination of the work environment. The pandemic will continue to have an impact on the workplace and laws relating to employees. You can find more detailed information here.
Employees and employers have a lot of questions concerning The Family and Medical Leave Act as it relates to the Covid-19 pandemic. Can paid sick leave or time off be used for reasons related to COVID-19: symptoms, quarantine, caring for someone who is in quarantine and school closures and who is considered a family member? The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed on March 18, 2020 and went into effect April 1, 2020. It expanded the FMLA and addressed some of those questions but is set to terminate on December 31st of 2020. Now everyone is waiting and watching to see what the Federal Gov’t will do to address these concerns past December 31st.
The three main areas we expect some type of new or extended legislation to cover are:
Paid sick leave: a benefit that allows employees paid time off from work, to stay home to address health issues without losing pay. In some instances, it can be used to care for a child or family member.
Family leave: is unpaid, job protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. It also requires that an employee can maintain their group health benefits during the leave.
Paid time off: time off when the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
Several states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington as of this writing) along with the District of Columbia have implemented or have pending laws and/or regulations that extend or amend the federal law.
What Do I Need to Do?
The Coronavirus is ever-changing and filled with many unknowns which brings new and changing laws and regulations almost every week. It is the employer’s responsibility to be informed and take the necessary steps to ensure a safe workplace. In 2020 many employers had to lay off employees or shut down or scale back businesses. As businesses open back up and get back to work in 2021, employers will have to be prepared and ready by staying informed, implementing necessary precautions and enacting the possible new laws and regulations.
National Safety Compliance is committed to keeping you up to date on the most recent federal and state changes and posting requirements for your business. The information contained in this blog cannot be considered as legal advice. It is provided for general information only. Contactthe U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) or your state’s Labor Department or agency for legal advice.
It is hard to believe that we are in the last quarter of 2020. Doesn’t it feel like this year will ever end? As we move towards November and December, we are gearing up for possible updates and changes to the different labor law posters. Now is the time that states begin to release new and/or revised required labor laws postings for the new year. While we are unsure what changes to expect, we do know 2020 brought about several changes in the Labor Law industry and required postings.
One major posting that comes to mind is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA. It took effect on April 1, 2020 and runs through December 31, 2020. On September 11, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division announced revisions to the regulations. While these regulations are set to expire at the end of the year, we anticipate a continuation of some form of the regulations to be extended to run through 2021. With the presidential election looming, along with various Senate and House seats up for grabs, it is anybody’s guess on what will eventually happen. Just know we are monitoring all the states to ensure we have the most recent and up-to-date required postings on our labor law posters.
What are Labor Law Notices? Do they affect my business (Yes, they do!)
Labor laws give structure to the workplace and defines the responsibility of the employer and employee. They are designed to protect the safety and health of workers in America. These postings are mandated notices that employers with at least one employee or more are required to conspicuously post in an area frequented by all employees. Some notices provide information for employees on who to contact for questions concerning discrimination, harassment, or workplace safety complaints. Not all employers are covered by each of the federal or state statutes and thus may not be required to post a specific notice. Every posting varies according to the statute and may not be required to be posted by every business.
The US Department of Labor (DOL) administers a variety of Federal labor laws such as:
Fair Labor Standards Act (Federal Minimum Wage)
Equal Employment Opportunity
Job Safety and Health
Your Rights Under USERRA
State Legislations and state agencies also pass certain laws or regulations, that require a posting to be placed in the workplace.
These postings vary from state to state. No two states are the same. Some topics covered by state labor laws include:
Child Labor Laws
Workers’ Compensation Notice
State OSHA postings
Federal or State Labor Law Posters. Am I Required to Post Both? (Yes, you are!)
A federal law applies to all 50 states and state laws apply only to that state. When federal and state standards are different, the rules that provide the most protection will apply. A state law can give more rights than the federal law and, in that case, the state law generally prevails. For example, the Federal Minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Many states have approved legislation that sets the state’s minimum wage higher. Employers must comply with both federal law and applicable state laws. Every state and federal agency has its own requirements as to who is required to post their notice, what information must be posted, where it is to be posted and, in some cases, even require a certain size posting.
What Are The Possible Penalties for Not Having Proper Labor Law Postings? (Be Informed, Be Prepared!)
Although there are no standard procedures for businesses to be inspected as to whether they have the right postings or not, there are penalties and/or citations that can be assessed by the different agencies, when a business is found negligent in this area. If an employer were fined by each individual agency, the fines could total over $32,000 per location.
By posting the required postings, you let your managers and workers know that you as an employer will protect your employees from discrimination, harassment, and injury.
If you have any questions about labor law posters, safety training programs, or any other related issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us by commenting below, using the chat function on our site, e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 877-922-7233.
National Safety Compliance is committed to keeping you up to date on the most recent federal and state changes and posting requirements for your business. The information contained in this blog cannot be considered as legal advice. It is provided for general information only. Contact the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) or your state’s Labor Department or agency for legal advice.
States are beginning to revive their economies; businesses are reopening, and employees are returning to work. As we begin this shift forward it is important to be mindful of all guidelines provided by OSHA and state and local guidelines regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). OSHA has just released updates to its latest industry-specific COVID-19 guidance.
With each passing week we know more about COVID-19 and are able to create improved, specific guidelines for businesses reopening. Each updated guideline is vital to the health and safety of your employees.
While reopening the workplace after COVID-19 reconfiguring your workplace according to these new guidelines can be the difference between keeping a healthy work environment and having an outbreak in your office.
The rate of new cases, hospitalizations and fatalities are currently decreasing throughout the country due to the steps our government has taken in accordance with OSHA’s guidelines to protect employees. Moving forward, we must continue to follow such guidelines if we want to see this decrease last.
OSHA is working to ensure businesses perform COVID-19 employee training and enforce safe working conditions for those returning to work in order to continue to slow down the virus’s spread as we adapt to new ways of doing business. Their Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19 provides the current instruction for eliminating health hazards.
This plan lays out the framework for areas that the spread of the disease has significantly decreased to return to their original inspection planning policy while still prioritizing COVID-19 cases and utilizing the appropriate precautions and equipment.
For areas where OSHA has seen an increase or resurgence of the transmission of COVID-19 they will utilize available resources according to cases with fatalities and imminent danger exposures and attempt to perform remote inspections with the intention of later performing an on-site portion of the inspection when resources become available.
General Enforcement Guidance Changes
Rapid Response Investigations (RRI):
Work-related fatalities must be reported to OSHA within eight hours
In-patient hospitalizations, amputation or losses of an eye must be reported within 24 hours
Any fatalities that occur within 30 days of a work-related incident must be reported within 24 hours
The Area Director (AD) will then determine if an inspection or RRI needs to be conducted
RRI will identify hazards, provide abatement assistance and confirm abatement
Process of AD Evaluations
The potential risk of exposure at the workplace must be determined by the AD prior to an inspection so their resources can be prioritized effectively
In instances where the AD feels an inspection is warranted, Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) must then evaluate any hazards and limit exposure
CSHOs should avoid interference with the provision of ongoing medical services
CSHOs must report any potential exposure to their supervisor and AD
Specific Guidance for COVID-19 Enforcement
Discerning when to exercise enforcement can be a difficult task. These specific guidelines aid you in this process and will help you gain a better understanding of the inspection and citation guidance.
Your workplace risk level is a big factor, it is important to understand which of these your workplace falls into in order to better understand OSHA’s guidelines and how they apply to you specifically.
High exposure: These employees are at the highest risk of exposure because they are in direct contact with suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. This includes those working with COVID-19 patients in hospitals, nursing homes and emergency response facilities.
Medium exposure: These are people in a workforce who are required to be in close contact with other people who may be exposed including their co-workers. This includes places with ongoing community transmission, travel and contact with the public in settings like schools, food processing and high-volume retail centers.
Low exposure: These jobs don’t require any contact with the public or any suspected of being infected, in addition, this means minimal contact with coworkers.
These levels of exposure and risk are now becoming OSHA’s focus because they are no longer divided between being essential and non-essential as the world begins to reopen. Response to complaints will be based on case-specific facts and resource limitations. Any cases with fatalities, imminent danger or life-critical activities will have an on-site inspection.
In order to be in compliance with these new guidelines Area Offices should follow the modified procedures below:
The AD should prioritize resources and consider all detail in COVID-19 cases with fatalities and imminent danger to discern if it is better to perform a remote investigation instead of being on site. Area Offices will assist employers with this process by directing them to the documents on protective measures.
Places with insufficient resources will be initiated remotely and when resources are available the on-site portion of the inspection will be conducted using a program developed by OSHA.
Depending on the discretion of the AD, non-formal procedures can sufficiently address alleged hazards unless the communication via phone or fax is inadequate.
RRI will handle any cases with work-related hospitalizations by referring to the procedures set in the OSHA Memorandum on RRIs.
The status and condition of work operations should document any serious hazards, conditions of exposure and any information indicative of the likelihood of exposure.
The Specifics of Inspections and Procedures
Workplaces with a high exposure risk are the focus of inspections in response to COVID-19 and it is up to the AD to determine whether to conduct an on-site or remote inspection. These inspections are meant to confirm that they are up to date on the most recent guidelines from both the CDC and OSHA.
In inspections CSHOs are looking to ensure that the facility is adequately trained in healthcare specific to their office and employees. They will look at individual characteristics and underlying conditions that are known to increase the risk for complications with COVID-19 including; being over 65, having a history of smoking, being immunosuppressed or having medical conditions that would further the complications of the disease.
During the inspection, it is expected for the CSHO to be provided with any equipment and decontamination supplies they may need for the materials that they bring on site. Any reusable PPE must be cleaned on site or properly bagged to be cleaned later.
They will still follow the same inspection procedures as previously outlined. Instead of making any big changes to the outline, it has been updated and made more specific.
Modifications to Procedure:
Opening Conference: CSHOs should take all necessary precautions to access the location for a formal interview without being exposed to locations with confirmed or suspected cases. Conferences can instead be accessed on the phone, in uncontaminated offices or outdoors.
Program and Document: Before attempting an inspection on-site CSHOs should take many steps outlined on OSHA’s website including ensuring the employer has a pandemic plan outlined, has reviewed their hazard assessment and protocols and determining if the facility has airborne infection.
Walkaround: CSHOs should determine which rooms are safe to walk through and should never enter a patient’s room or treatment areas. Photographs or videos should be used for air documentation only and pictures should never be taken of patients.
Compliance Officer Protection: CSHOs are encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccinations if and when they become available as well as the seasonal influenza vaccine. The minimum level of respiratory protection for CSHOs a fit half-mark with at least an N95 rated filter, goggles or face shields, disposable gloves and disposable gowns.
Safety Practices During Inspections: CSHOs Should not enter rooms with COVID-19 patients or rooms with airborne infection. They must wash their hands with soap and water after each inspection after removing gloves.
Applicable OSHA Standards: CSHOs must rely on specific facts and findings for each case.
Observation of Hazards: If there are no violations of OSHA’s standards the CSHO should end the inspection and immediately leave.
Citation Guidance: Violations of OSHA standards will be classified as serious.
General Duty Clause: If CSHOs observe violations to OSHA’s standards they should then obtain evidence of the potential violation that shows the employer failed to keep the workplace free of hazards, the hazard was recognized, had the potential to cause death or serious physical harm and there was a possible method to correct the hazard.
Use of CDC recommendations: The most current guidance should be used to assess the employer’s protective measures. When this is not the case, CSHOs should determine if the employees are exposed as a result of the hazard.
Citation Review: The citation will be reviewed with the Regional Administrator and National Office before issuance.
Guidance for OSHA Standards
Beyond all of these specific guidelines and standards for inspections, the main thing CSHOs are trying to determine is if the employer is making true efforts towards ensuring the safety of their workers and taking proper coronavirus employer precautions. This includes eliminating workplace hazards, prioritizing efforts to acquire and use equipment that has not exceeded its shelf life and using homemade masks only as a last resort.
To ensure that you are successfully meeting these guidelines as an employer you should reconfigure the workplace to follow these guidelines, designate a workplace safety coordinator to oversee COVID polices, train employees on cleaning and disinfecting procedures and clearly communicate practices and policies on disease.
If you have any questions about the new guidelines for COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us using the chat function on our site, e-mail us at email@example.com or call us at 877-922-7233.
The Federal Government is taking unprecedented measures to provide financial help to businesses affected by the Covid-19 virus. At this point it appears that almost every business is being affected. Here at National Safety Compliance we find ourselves is uncharted territory as well. Due to a 30-day Shelter-In-Place order and a sharp decline in daily sales, we have reduced our working staff to the bare minimum. Therefore, some of our normal production activities have been put on hold. As a result of this, we are not currently able to update our labor law posters to reflect the changes being made to the federal posting requirements.
A new federal poster has been released called “The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Poster.” This poster provides information regarding employee rights concerning Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The poster takes effect April 1, 2020 and goes through December 31, 2020. Since we cannot at this time update our poster, we have attached a pdf file of the poster for you to print and display along with your current Labor Law poster. It is an 8.5” x 11” size posting which means you do not need special sized paper to print it. Once this emergency situation has passed and we are able to get back to work, we will update our posters and provide those of you on our poster protection plan with a new poster. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope that you understand.
If you have any other training needs, please note that we are still shipping all of our other products. If some of your employees are currently remote, we also have online training programs that you can send directly to them to complete on online from anywhere.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We will be happy to assist you as best we can. Stay safe, wash your hands, and hold on tight to hope.
Periodically, this blog will discuss various hot topics surrounding Labor Law issues. This may include such issues as: discrimination, sexual harassment, paid family leave and drug testing among others. Let’s look at an issue that has been in the news most recently, hair discrimination.
The most recent headlines involving hair discrimination have happened in the last few years. In August of 2018, a Louisiana sixth grader was kicked off school grounds because her braided hair violated school policy. In December 2018, a high school student was told he had to choose between cutting his dreadlocks or forfeit his wrestling match. And in December 2019, a high school senior was suspended for wearing dreadlocks and was told he would not be able to walk at graduation if he did not change his hair. Going a few more years back, a leading federal circuit court case concerning hair discrimination involved a claim against an insurance company, who withdrew a potential employees job offer because she refused to cut her natural dreadlocks. These events and other have led states to create legislation such as the CROWN Act.
What is the CROWN Act? CROWN is an acronym for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. The Crown Act is a law which ensures protection against discrimination based on hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and state Education Codes.
What states have enacted this law? California was the first state to expand the definition of race in the Fair Employment and Housing Act, ensuring protection in workplaces and public and charter schools, effective January 1, 2020. Other states are considering the CROWN Act and have either pre-filed, filed or formally stated an intent to introduce their own anti-hair discrimination laws including New York, New Jersey and most recently Virginia on March 3, 2020. Twenty-five additional states and some cities have pending legislation: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
How does the CROWN Act affect my business? The CROWN Act or similar type laws could affect your business in various ways. Some include:
· Dress codes and grooming guidelines may need to be reviewed and updated
· Companies may be required to provide personal protective equipment concerning an employee’s hair
· During job interviews, hair style cannot be a consideration to hire or not to hire
· Managers and supervisors will need to be trained to not discriminate based on natural hair styles
· Employers may need to consult legal advice to clarify any hair discrimination policies and procedures
If an employee feels as if they have been discriminated against because of hair style, they can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (https://www.eeoc.gov/).
The information contained in this blog cannot be considered as legal advice. It is provided for general information only. Contact the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) or your state’s Labor Department or agency for legal advice.
Last week on the Labor Law Blog we looked at 4 things you should know about labor law. Looking ahead, there are labor law changes slated to take effect in the coming months. Let’s look at a few, beginning with the state that has the biggest change so far.
Multi State Minimum Wage Changes: While Congress has not
raised the federal minimum wage of $7.25 since July 2009, many states have
passed their own minimum wage laws. As a result, they will raise their wages to
$15.00, over the next several years, based on yearly cost of living increases or
prior approved legislation. The following states will see additional increases
in 2020: Connecticut, Nevada, New York, Oregon. and Washington D.C.
Colorado: COMPS Order #36 COMPS stands for “Colorado Overtime & Minimum Pay Standards Order.”* Scheduled to take effect, March 16, 2020, this order will replace the current Colorado Minimum Wage Order #35, dated January 1, 2020. According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the revised changes:
Defines who an employee
is. The new Wage Oder covers all
employees, unless specifically excluded
employees. For an employee to be exempt from overtime and break rights, s/he
must have exempt duties (executive/supervisory, professional, or a few others)
and be paid a sufficient salary
Clarifies how federal,
state, and local wage laws all apply
Clarifies rest periods, deductions, credits, and charges
Clarifies overtime pay
calculation when pay is not hourly and the ban on reprisals
Gives more transparency,
and language inclusiveness, in wage poster rules
Washington D.C.: Paid Family Medical Leave: A new
benefit, beginning in July 2020, will be Paid Family Leave. This benefit will
provide eight weeks to bond with a new child, six weeks to care for a family
member with a serious health condition and two weeks to care for your own serious
Others to look for: Several states have pending legislation that could be implemented in the coming year. Labor Law is an important issue that you and your company must always be aware of. Check back with us to stay up to date on any major changes.
The information contained in this blog cannot be
considered as legal advice. It is provided for general information only.
Contactthe U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) or your
state’s Labor Department or agency for legal advice.