BI’s Article search uses Boolean search capabilities. If you are not familiar with these principles, here are some quick tips.
To search specifically for more than one word, put the search term in quotation marks. For example, “workers compensation”. This will limit your search to that combination of words.
To search for a combination of terms, use quotations and the & symbol. For example, “hurricane” & “loss”.
While questions swirl in Washington about who will lead the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and how the new administration will impact the regulatory environment, employers still need to take action to remain in compliance with current rules, experts say.
“There is some upheaval, but I think some of that is overblown,” said David Dubberly, an attorney with Columbia, South Carolina-based law firm Nexsen Pruet L.L.C. “Some of the newly announced regulations and initiatives may get cut back, but the long-standing OSHA requirements that have been around for years are still going to be enforced.”
Mr. Dubberly said employers still have a legal and ethical obligation to provide a safe workplace for employees, be familiar with OSHA standards and have a plan to comply with them. It would be a mistake, he said, to relax on OSHA compliance during this period of uncertainty because while enforcement standards may become less confrontational under the new administration, rules will still be enforced.
“Bottom line, they still have to have a comprehensive safety program, and that basically means three things,” said Mr. Dubberly. “They have to figure out what OSHA standards apply to a worksite and make sure they are being complied with; they must do an overall safety analysis of the workplace and follow up on any potential hazards that are discovered; and they must investigate injuries, even if they are relatively minor, and take steps to keep them from happening again.”
Aside from general workplace safety precautions, employers should also make sure they have filed their 300A forms, which requires them to review their OSHA logs and post a summary of injuries for employees to review. Although the Feb. 1 deadline for posting the logs has passed, Mr. Dubberly said it’s better for employers to post the log late than not at all.
Employers also should be preparing to comply with new regulations despite uncertainty about whether the new administration will delay or repeal them, said Nickole Winnett, an attorney with Reston, Virginia-based law firm Jackson Lewis P.C. Complying with the rules will take time, she said, and taking a wait-and-see approach could leave employers behind and at risk for citations.
Among the deadlines employers should be aware of are the electronic recordkeeping rule deadline, which requires employers with 250 or more employees at any time during the previous year to submit certain records to OSHA electronically starting in July. “Because now that information will be publicly available for the first time, we are encouraging employers to spend a little more time reviewing their records to make sure their logs are accurate,” Ms. Winnett said.
Employers in the construction industry also need to be aware of the June deadline for OSHA’s new silica rule despite chatter about the rule being delayed or rescinded. Ms. Winnett said complying with the rule may require lengthy research, interaction with third parties and development of training programs. “There’s a lot that has to be done from now until June,” Ms. Winnett said. “The new administration can delay enforcement but it can’t make changes to the rule without notice and comment, so at this point employers should prepare as if the rule will go into place in four months.”
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is again raising the penalties it can assess against employers for workplace safety violations.