This week, we continue with our 2021 outlook series with a focus on environmental, health, and safety. This year brings a new Presidential administration, and with it will come a host of new programs, as well as some new takes on established programs. The following are a few initiatives that could impact manufacturers in 2021.

As COVID-19 cases have continued to rise across the United States, so have COVID-related OSHA complaints and investigations. OSHA has been tracking statistics on COVID-related complaints, referrals, inspections, and citations on a daily basis and posting the results posting the results on its website.

Federal OSHA has initiated over 1,000 investigations related to COVID-19. As

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

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.

While Federal OSHA has issued numerous COVID-related guidance documents, it has declined to issue an enforceable COVID

Yesterday, OSHA issued guidance aimed at educating workers and employers on how to properly use face coverings at work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Structured as a series of frequently asked questions with answers, the guidance is the latest word from OSHA on measures workplaces can and should take to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

This is the second of two posts dedicated to reopening plans for manufacturers.  In the first post on May 26, I addressed the first two questions which every manufacturer may wish to ask as it forms its reopening plans.  Manufacturing;  Back to Business (Part One) (May 26, 2020).  Here, I address the next four questions.

The disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic stressed the entire manufacturing sector.  For the most part, manufacturers responded to those challenges quickly and responsibly.  Now that every state has begun reopening, the manufacturing sector will once again be called on to lead.  Manufacturers which respond well to those challenges will thrive in the months ahead.

While a recent headline-grabbing Forbes article may have caused some concern (“Researchers Say Social Distancing To Prevent Coronavirus May Need To Continue Until 2022”), many manufacturers are now planning to return to “Business as (the New) Normal.”  During the last two months, I have been fielding calls from essential manufacturers on how to