The following are updates on recent policy and rulemaking efforts by the agency. Please reach out to your Husch Blackwell workplace and health contact with any questions.
Final Rule Expanding Submission Requirements for Injury & Illness Data
OSHA’s final rule requiring new submissions of injury and illness data for certain employers in high-hazard industries takes effect on January 1, 2024. The rule will require certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness information they must already maintain to OSHA directly. OSHA indicated in its press release that it intends to publish some of the data it collects from these submissions on its website “to allow employers, employees, potential employees, employee representatives, current and potential customers, researchers and the general public to use information about a company’s workplace safety and health record to make informed decisions.” OSHA has also indicated that “it will use this data to intervene through strategic outreach and enforcement to reduce worker injuries and illnesses in high-hazard industries.” The new rule requires covered establishments with one hundred (100) or more employees to electronically submit information from their Form 300-Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and Form 301-Injury and Illness Incident Report to OSHA once a year. This submission is in addition to the obligation to submit Form 300A-Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. The final rule retains the current requirements for electronic submission of information on Form 300A for establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-hazard industries and employers with 250 or more employees in industries that must routinely keep OSHA injury and illness records.
Rules Regarding Heat-Related Illnesses
OSHA continues to take steps to move its proposed heat rule to final status. In 2021, OSHA released a proposed rule on workplace standards to protect workers from heat-related illnesses. This accompanies the agency’s intensified enforcement efforts for workers exposed to heat hazards. The agency announced on June 20, 2023, that it has initiated the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (“SBREFA”) process. This next step in the rulemaking process will include the convening of a Small Business Advocacy Review panel to gain input from small entity representatives on the potential impacts of a health specific standard. More information on the Heat Injury and Illness SBREFA can be found here: https://www.osha.gov/heat/sbrefa.
Voluntary Protection Programs Modernization
OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (“VPP”) have been in place since 1982 and are intended to recognize workplaces with exceptional safety and health management. However, the VPP’s requirements have not been updated since 1989. OSHA published its Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in 2016 and held a stakeholder meeting on June 15, 2023, to discuss how to modernize, improve, and expand the VPP. OSHA describes the VPP as “groundbreaking, being among the first programs to employ a management system structure emphasizing management leadership, worker participation, robust hazard identification and control, and training.” The agency continues to evaluate changes to the VPP with no date certain for changes at this time.
Memorandum of Understanding Between OSHA and the National Labor Relations Board
On October 31, 2023, National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) General Counsel Jennifer A. Abruzzo and Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA executed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”). The MOU establishes a process for information sharing, referrals, training, and outreach between the agencies. The MOU notes, in part, that the new process outlined in the MOU is intended to facilitate enforcement of whistleblower and anti-retaliation provisions in both the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The MOU is part of the NLRB’s General Counsel’s interagency coordination initiative “to take a whole of government approach to enforcement.”