Court rejects Big Labor petition to force OSHA’s hand on Covid-19 standard

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed an American Federation of Labor–Council of Industrial Organizations petition seeking an order compelling the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for infectious disease and Covid-19 workplace exposure. AFL-CIO had filed a writ of mandamus petition in May after initially petitioning OSHA in March to issue an ETS addressing the virus outbreak.

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Essential, responsible employers lessen need for OSHA virus exposure standard

Our Chairman’s Report series continues this month with visits to Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute’s Marshall Brown (ACM Chemistries; pages 50-52) and Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute’s J. Seroky (High Concrete Group; pages 54-57). When asked how their organizations addressed national and state government pandemic response mandates from mid-March on, their refrains are consistent with what we heard last month from 2020 National Concrete Masonry Association Chairman Tom Finch (RCP Block & Brick): Producers successfully expedited new measures to identify and isolate potential virus spread among team members and customers. Thanks to online conferencing tools, ICPI, NCMA and PCI members have been able to spontaneously share best practices and metrics for ensuring healthy workplaces in unchartered waters.

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Truck weight-minded whistleblower banks $220K in OSHA order

Sources: Occupational Safety and Health Administration; CP staff

Abiding its Whistleblower Protection Program, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered JHOS Logistics and Transportation Inc. to reinstate an employee terminated for refusing to drive what the employee reasonably believed to be an overweight vehicle at the company’s Wilmington, Calif. facility. The agency also ordered the motor carrier to pay $190,000 in back wages, $25,000 in punitive damages, $5,000 in compensatory damages, plus attorney’s fees. 

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Court rejects Big Labor suit to force OSHA’s hand on Covid-19 standard

Sources: Associated Builders and Contractors, AFL-CIO, Washington, D.C.; CP staff

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed an AFL-CIO petition seeking an order compelling the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for infectious disease and Covid-19 workplace exposure. “The agency is authorized to issue an ETS if it determines that ’employees are exposed to grave danger’ from a new hazard in the workplace, and an ETS is ‘necessary’ to protect them from that danger,” a three-judge panel concludes. “The OSHA’s decision not to issue an ETS is entitled to considerable deference.”

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OSHA revises enforcement policies for coronavirus infection cases

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration 

As states reopen after more than two months of shelter orders, OSHA has adopted two revised enforcement policies with respect to coronavirus exposure in workplaces, spurred by improved understanding about infection transmission and prevention throughout the course of the pandemic. 

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OSHA pandemic response plan draws lines on illness reporting, culpability

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An interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic provides guidance to Occupational Safety and Health Administration Area Offices plus compliance safety and health officers (CSHO) for handling Covid-19 disease-related complaints, referrals or severe illness reports. The plan contains what OSHA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt calls “commonsense procedures for investigating complaints related to the coronavirus while also ensuring the safety of workers, employers, and inspectors.” 

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OSHA outlines pandemic response enforcement plan measures

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration

An interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic provides guidance to Occupational Safety and Health Administration Area Offices plus compliance safety and health officers (CSHO) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals or severe illness reports. Effectively immediately, it contains what OSHA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt calls “commonsense procedures for investigating complaints related to the coronavirus while also ensuring the safety of workers, employers, and inspectors.” 

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Whistleblowing-driver prevails in claims against fleet owner

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSHA is testing Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) whistleblower protection provisions by ordering a defunct Connecticut motor carrier and its co-owner to pay more than $150,000 in backpay, fines and attorney’s fees to settle a complaint surrounding management practices and trucking regulations compliance. Investigators found that the carrier retaliated against a driver who voiced concerns about faulty vehicle maintenance, including missing or inoperative headlights and air pressure leaks, and a directive to violate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hours of service regulations. 

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‘Protecting the Workforce’ campaign guides OSHA to 50th anniversary

Sources: Occupational Safety and Health Administration; CP staff

OSHA will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 with a yearlong celebration of past achievements, current efforts and future initiatives to protect the American workforce. Signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 29, 1970, the OSH Act was created “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women,” laying the groundwork for creation of OSHA the following spring. 

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Masonry, mortar tasks spur discussion of OSHA silica rule revisions

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The 26-member Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) has formally requested the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revise the Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica – Specified Exposure Control Methods standard (silica rule), thereby expanding compliance options and recognizing sub-threshold dust levels typical of masonry sawing and mortar mixing.

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