This week’s post was co-authored by Robinson+Cole Labor and Employment Group lawyer Emily A. Zaklukiewicz.

While employers in healthcare and education have mandated, or considered mandating, vaccination of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, recently employers in many other industries are considering doing so. Manufacturers are now grappling with how best to evaluate the risks associated with such policies, implementation and administration of a mandatory vaccination policy, and the handling of requests for exemption, which may follow. Under federal and many state laws, employers requiring vaccination must provide employees (and applicants with job offers) with the opportunity to request an exemption from vaccination as a reasonable accommodation, based on a disability (or medical condition) or sincerely held religious belief. Employers are required to engage in an interactive process with employees to understand the request and determine whether to approve or deny it. Therefore, it is critical that employers maintain clear policies and procedures for evaluating such requests and understand their legal obligations in doing so. Of particular note, general vaccine hesitancies and personal philosophies are generally not protected by law and employers are not required to consider such exemption requests unless a state or local law provides otherwise.
Continue Reading Navigating Requests for Exemption from Mandatory Workplace Vaccination Policies

This week’s post was co-authored by Robinson+Cole Labor and Employment Group lawyer Emily A. Zaklukiewicz.

Earlier this year, we covered the topic of drug testing in the workplace. Since then, several states have passed legislation legalizing recreational use of cannabis, including Connecticut; this new law not only legalizes the recreational use of cannabis in the state, but also imposes various obligations and restrictions on employers, which are effective July 1, 2022. While certain employers in the manufacturing industry may be exempt from these employment-related restrictions in the new law, manufacturers may still be impacted.
Continue Reading Connecticut’s Recreational Marijuana Law And Its Impact on the Workplace

Below in an excerpt from an article authored by Robinson+Cole Labor and Employment Group lawyers Alisha N. SullivanAbby M. Warren and Emily A. Zaklukiewicz that was published in Industry Week on July 21, 2021.

For many months, manufacturers have been navigating issues related to the COVID-19 vaccine and its impact on the workplace.

This week’s post was co-authored by Robinson+Cole Labor and Employment Group lawyer Emily A. Zaklukiewicz.

More than one year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing face masks and social distancing continue to be the “new normal.” Manufacturers, while familiar with health and safety protocols related to their operations, have had to navigate a new set of protocols aimed at maintaining a safe workplace during the global pandemic. Widespread vaccine distribution has been underway for several months and it has prompted public health authorities and governments to begin relaxing mandates and rules related to workplace safety. Many employers, including manufacturers, are now facing the challenge of maintaining a safe workplace for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, in light of these changes.
Continue Reading Masks, Safety Measures & Manufacturers

Below is an excerpt of an article co-authored with Emily A. Zaklukiewicz, a member of Robinson+Cole’s Labor, Employment, Benefits + Immigration Group, that was published in ISHN on May 6, 2021.

Drug testing in the workplace, especially in the manufacturing industry, has become a common part of pre-employment screening and health/safety measures in

This week we are pleased to have a guest post from Edward Heath and Kevin Daly. Attorneys Heath and Daly are members of Robinson+Cole’s Manufacturing Industry Team and regularly counsel clients on trade compliance, anti-corruption compliance, and other corporate compliance issues.

Proposition 65 is the California law that requires warning labels on products sold to California customers that potentially expose users to certain chemicals which may cause a risk of cancer or reproductive harm. The state maintains  a list of approximately 900 chemicals that fall within Prop 65, and the statute provides detailed guidance on what the warning label must contain.  Because of the steep penalties that can be imposed under Prop 65 litigation, compliance with the warning requirements is vital for any company selling products into California. Recently, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has proposed amendments to the format requirements for Proposition 65 warnings that will require companies to re-assess the sufficiency of their current warnings.

Prop 65 provides two forms of “safe harbor” warnings. If a warning label conforms to the statutory specifics, it is deemed to shield the company from liability.
Continue Reading California Regulators Propose New Regulations to Limit Use of “Short Form” Proposition 65 Warnings

Below in an excerpt from an article authored by Robinson+Cole Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group lawyers Megan E. Baroni, Christopher Y. Eddy, Peter R. Knight, and Jonathan H. Schaefer that was published in ISHN (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News).

The Occupational Safety and Health Act provides for increased penalties for employers who

I am pleased to join as one of the regular contributors to the Manufacturing Law Blog. I am a labor and employment lawyer and I will be providing insights from that vantage point, which Matt Miklave has so ably contributed over the past several years. Matt is retiring from Robinson+Cole and we wish him well as he opens his own firm.

After months of countless updates on the status of the COVID-19 vaccine weaving its way through the regulatory approval process, the vaccine has arrived! Now many employers are grappling with a key question – what type of vaccination program can employers implement?

According to guidance issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on December 16, 2020, employers may implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine program for vaccines that have been authorized or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As part of that program, employers may inquire as to whether an employee has been vaccinated and request proof of vaccination. That being said, according to the guidance, employers should review requests for reasonable accommodation from employees seeking an exemption from vaccination based on a disability or a religious reason. In reviewing such requests, employers would then determine if an unvaccinated employee would pose a “direct threat” to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace that cannot be reduced to an acceptable level by conducting a case-by-case analysis and taking an approach that is meant to limit potential risks.
Continue Reading To Require or Encourage COVID-19 Vaccine. . . That is the Question

Thank you to Jonathan Schaefer for this post. Jon focuses his practice on environmental compliance counseling, occupational health and safety, permitting, site remediation, and litigation related to federal and state regulatory programs.

Manufacturing equipment can be dangerous. Hazards associated with manufacturing equipment can come in a variety of forms, such as pinch points, sparks, or flying debris. OSHA regulations require equipment with moving parts to have specific protection mechanisms in place – often referred to as machine guarding. Machine guarding can take many forms, such as barriers, light curtains, and two-hand trips.

In 2019, the last year for which complete data is available, machine guarding violations were in OSHA’s top 10 most cited violations, as well as OSHA’s top 10 list for “serious” violations and for “willful” violations. Of the 1,969 machine guarding violations OSHA issued citations for between October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019, 1,737 were classified as “serious” and 13 were classified “willful”.

However, not all of these citations become final, or at least not in the form issued. Some employers choose to challenge citations to OSHA’s Review Commission. For those not familiar with OSHA’s Review Commission, it is a three Commissioner panel appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Commission hears appeals of contested OSHA cases. Contested cases can take a while to work their way through OSHA’s contest case process and receive a decision from the Commission. The three cases discussed below involved citations issued in 2014 and 2016.
Continue Reading OSHA Review Commission Issues Decisions on Machine-Guarding Violations

Thank you to my colleague, Jonathan Schaefer, for his contributions to this post. Jon focuses his practice on environmental compliance counseling, occupational health and safety, permitting, site remediation, and litigation related to federal and state regulatory programs.

Since at least March, manufacturers, and the entire U.S. economy, have been experiencing unprecedented conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has not only changed where and how manufacturers operate, but also safety protocols across the board.

It will likely come as no surprise to any manufacturer, that since February there has been a significant increase in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) caseload. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently found that this increased caseload has resulted in the average number of days to close an investigation to increase 41 days (279 versus 238) since the OIG’s last audit.
Continue Reading Significant Increase in OSHA Whistleblower Complaints and Caseloads Due to COVID-19