Emily Zhang Associate Editor Loyola University Chicago School of Law, J.D. 2024 On October 13, the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) issued a change to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Covid-19 emergency standard and issued a revised proposal for the non-emergency standard. The order updates the definition of “close contact” …
In September 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new instruction which broadens the scope of the agency’s inspection program, the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The previous directive, which went into effect in 2010, allowed OSHA to place employers in the program if its employees committed certain serious violations, especially if they had already been cited for the violation once or received a failure-to-abate notice. The new instruction allows OSHA to place employers in the program that probably would not have met the criteria in the previous directive.
On October 21, 2021, actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and injured director Joel Souza on the set of the western film, Rust. Details of the tragic accident are still surfacing, but the incident has already sparked debate over the safety of cast and crew in Hollywood. With access to so much technology and computer-generated work behind the scenes, there is no longer a need for real guns in Hollywood. Despite the regulations on guns on Hollywood film sets, accidents still happen. Cast and crew should not have to risk their lives over something that is one hundred percent preventable.
The signing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 decreased workplace deaths and injuries in the United States. Signed by President Richard Nixon more than fifty years ago, the purpose of the law is to secure “safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.” One reason for enacting the law was to address the substantial financial burden that workplace injuries and illnesses put on interstate commerce. However, it is estimated that as of 2018, employers still spent an average of 1 billion dollars per week on workers’ compensation costs. This high price of workplace injuries can be reduced through more rigorous education and training for employees. Employers should be required to implement increased training and education to employees. Doing so would strengthen OSHA’s regulatory effect with a decrease in workplace incidents and the high price associated with them.
As a compliance deadline set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) for the fracking industry approaches on June 23, 2021, both the industry and the workers employed by it are seeing benefits. Created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA sets out regulations meant to protect employees from work conditions that threaten their health and monitors and enforces compliance with those standards.
As COVID-19 is back on the rise throughout the United States and various vaccine trials are occurring, employers are beginning to consider COVID-19 vaccine mandates for all their employees. While no vaccine has been approved yet, predictions point to a possible release by the end of the year. The vaccine is not expected to be readily available until mid-2021 for the general public, which makes it difficult for most employers to mandate vaccination at least until 2021. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has yet to release guidance on COVID-19 vaccine so it is best to consider guidelines discussing flu vaccines for now. Although there are necessary accommodations due to federal legislation, vaccine programs are permissible.
There seems to be no end in sight to the various concerns associated with COVID-19, and experts are hesitant to say when and if life as we knew it will ever return to “normal.” As the pandemic persisted, companies large and small quickly realized that jobs we all assumed had to be done in an office, can in fact be done from the comfort of one’s home. #WFH is a trending social media hashtag standing for “work from home,” and posts using this hashtag range anywhere from how to dress comfortably while remaining professional when working from home to setting up the perfect home office. #WFH, however, is not just a social media trend, but a new normal for many Americans as employers were forced to allow their employees to work from home due to health concerns related to COVID-19. This gives rise to questions such as, what about safety and security concerns related to employer data? And, where do employees draw the line between work and home when working from home? While this may be uncharted territory, top researchers say that #WFH may be the next big thing for companies worldwide.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) recently announced alterations to its previous regulations which expanded family and medical leave provisions and paid sick leave of April’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). These revisions serve to clarify the responsibilities of employers and the rights of workers as they relate to the paid leave of FFCRA. These revisions come after a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York which invalidated portions of the initial regulations. The WHD’s revisions are an example of the lack of clarity and adequate response from regulations designed to protect workers during the current pandemic.
The meat and poultry packing industry has recently fallen victim to the spread of COVID-19. Among fierce backlash over the federal government’s lack of action to protect meat packing facility workers, the CDC and OSHA released interim guidelines. These guidelines are to be followed by employers not only to keep workers safe, but to avoid a shortage of one of America’s most prized food sources: meat and poultry. The meat packing industry, as one of the most heavily-regulated industries in the United States, now faces increased regulation during a global pandemic.
For the first time since 2013, on Saturday, January 20th, 2018, the U.S. government ran out of money when Congress failed to pass a spending bill to fund the federal government. Much of the federal government’s operations have ground to a halt due to the lack of funding. Because Congress is seemingly at an impasse over immigration policy, the shutdown may last several days, if not weeks. In light of Loyola’s upcoming symposium exploring what happens when regulation is not enforced, it is interesting to consider how, in a similar vein, the shutdown affects compliance.