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.
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.
In order to understand why your business is required to comply with labor laws, you first need to know what labor law is and how it affects your business. The definition of law is “the system of rules which a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and which it may enforce by the imposition of penalties.” Labor laws are enacted to protect the rights, health and financial remuneration of workers.
What is Labor Law and how is it enforced?
Labor Laws give structure to the workplace and defines employers and employees responsibilities. Some statutes and regulations require that posters or notices be posted in the workplace. These postings are mandated state and federal law notices that employers with at least one employee or more are required to conspicuously post in an area frequented by all employees. Not all employers are covered by each of the federal or state statutes and thus may not be required to post a specific notice. State laws vary from state to state. Just as there are consequences for breaking the law, there could be penalties and fines if a labor law is broken. The US Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces the federal laws. Every state has a department or agency responsible for administering state specific laws.
When and how do Labor Laws change?
There is not a set date for federal or Labor Law revisions or updates that apply to your business to be made. Labor Laws change throughout the year and state laws generally update more often than the federal labor laws. The past few years have seen a large increase in the number of changes. In 2019 more than 50 changes were made that impacted employees. As of January 1, 2020, more than two dozen laws were slated to take effect. Some issues most likely to be addressed in 2020 will be Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Paid Family Leave and Minimum Wage. Many times, a law is passed in one year, and will be required to be enforced a year or two later. This allows the state or federal agency time to put policies and procedures in place that are needed to enforce the law. Labor law posters must be updated and replaced whenever the new or revised law goes into effect.
What happens when State Laws and Federal Laws are different?
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. For instance, the federal minimum wage in 2020 is $7.25 per hour yet many states, cities, and counties have a higher minimum wage rate. When the state, city or county minimum wage rate is higher than the federal rate, employers are required to pay workers the higher amount.
Who enforces Labor Laws?
While governmental agencies typically do not inspect for just Labor Law posting infractions, that doesn’t mean fines are not assessed. Most often fines are assessed when a business is being inspected or investigated for other reasons. At such times, the on-site agency will check to see if the required postings are posted as part of their investigation.
Labor Law compliance can be difficult to understand at times. As an employer, you need to be aware of the requirements that apply to your company. It is important to be aware of changes and updates and inform your employees. For more information, please look at our FAQ page.