Summer may now be over, but the debate over how OSHA should regulate worker exposure to heat – indoors and out – may be getting hotter. Over the summer, both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and a coalition of private advocacy groups and individuals supported OSHA developing a heat stress standard. While OSHA has offered guidance on protecting workers from overheating and cited companies under the catch-all General Duty Clause, it does not currently have particular heat exposure limits or mandates.

According to a recent court opinion, last month MSHA reached a settlement with a mining company that included removing the company from the list of operators with a “pattern of violations” (POV). While a 3-1 majority of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission agreed to dismiss the case, one commissioner dissented strongly.

With the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, occupational safety and health professionals may be interested in the impact he may have on future cases involving OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, MSHA, and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act. Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week has shown him to be thoughtful and very well qualified (not to mention incredibly patient).  At this point, it seems apparent to all that he will soon be confirmed by the Senate.

How did one of the world’s most familiar brands go from 30 lost-time injuries per month to two in just ten years? Safety professionals across industries will be interested in this first-hand account about David White’s remarkable run overseeing supply chain at Campbell Soup.

As the Trump Administration pursues its agenda of de-regulation, OSHA issued a policy memo recently, reversing course on a key part of its approach to the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). According to a May 30th memo, which revised a 2013 policy (“Memorandum #7”), OSHA will no longer automatically issue an Intent to Terminate Notice (ITT) to companies on VPP when certain events occur. Instead, the agency will take a more deferential and conciliatory approach to overseeing VPP participants. The changes implemented by the May 2018 memo took effect immediately.

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OSHA and a long list of public and private partners are promoting next week as Safe + Sound Week. The goal is to raise awareness about the value of integrated safety and health programs in workplaces. Companies looking to participate in local public events or hold their own can find resources and ideas at the OSHA Safe + Sound web site.…

Last month, OSHA’s administrator for Region VII issued a press release announcing the agency’s intention to counter the increase in work-related fatalities in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. During the current fiscal year (Oct17-Sep18), OSHA has investigated 34 fatalities in these states.  Sadly, that number has continued to rise in the weeks since the press release was issued.  What can we learn from this announcement?

Here’s an all-too-familiar story with an all-too-uncommon ending. An MSHA inspector saw equipment positioned a certain way, assumed that someone had used it unsafely in that position, and issued a citation. A judge then upheld the citation by giving more weight to the inspector’s assumption than to the worker’s sworn testimony about how he acted safely. But, in this case, the mine operator refused to accept that unfair result. They appealed… and won.