The Fall Edition
Nov 23, 2016


The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its final ruleupdating the general industry standards on walking-working surfaces to include slip, trip, and fall hazards. OSHA estimates these new standards will prevent 29 fatalities and eliminate more than 5,842 injuries annually.


Most significantly, the final rule will allow employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection systems. The rule makes the following other changes: employers may use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level; the rule prohibits the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system; and the rule requires worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment. The final rule will become effective on Jan. 17, 2017, and will affect approximately 112 million workers at seven million worksites.


The White House issued its fall regulatory agenda this week. This agenda generally outlines the administration's anticipated rulemaking schedule. But with a new administration on the way, this timeline for future rules may be changing. Nevertheless, the agenda sheds additional light on the Obama administration's priorities between now and January 20th. In the areas of health and safety, the administration is on track to address proposed rules on Beryllium exposure in the technology sector, Permanent Labor Certification for foreign workers, workplace violence prevention for health care workers, and continued vigilance in mine safety. We're tracking the changes.



The Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released its biannual report of mine safety data this week. The United States mining industry reported 25 fatalities during the 2016 fiscal year, which is the fewest number and lowest injury rate in nearly four decades of records. This total is down from 38 deaths in 2015, and is the lowest total since records began in 1978, a year that saw 242 miner deaths. The rate of mine worker injuries in 2016 was 2.14 per 200,000 hours of work, another record low.


MSHA attributes this reduction in fatalities to a combination of aggressive enforcement efforts at minesover the past 18 months, enhanced outreach and training, including an increase in onsite "walk and talks", the initiation of quarterly, national conference calls for stakeholders with mine safety trainers, and cooperation from industry.



political tug-of-war rages in Illinois as top law makers and the governor's office continue to disagree on budgetary priorities. Workers' compensation reform in the Prairie State remains central to the dispute. On Monday, the Illinois General Assembly will debate a package of work comp reform that addresses injury causation, a "traveling employee" defense, and the implementation of medical guidelines. We'll be keeping watch.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced changes to the recovery and reporting obligations on small dollar claims. Beginning January 1, 2017, entities are not required to report (and CMS will not seek recovery on) settlements for physical trauma-based liability insurance settlements for $750 or less. CMS will maintain the $750 threshold for no-fault insurance and workers' compensation settlements.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its first set of guidelines for companies building "Internet of Things" (IoT) devices. The DHS guidance recognizes that interconnected thermostats, cameras and washing machines, represent little threat to the people who own them. They can, however, become co-opted by malicious software and can be used to launch attacks on larger targets. DHS's manufacturing guidance incorporates security into the design phase. DHS argues that building security in at the design phase reduces potential disruptions and avoids the much more difficult and expensive endeavor of attempting to add security to products after they have been developed and deployed.


On the eve of our Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, we pause to genuinely thank all of our readers for your continued support of The Way. We hope you have a safe and healthy holiday. And, so we're here to remind you that U.S. Fire Administration notes that Thanksgiving Day leads the year in house fires. Food safety experts at the FDA remind you to thoroughly cook your turkey. The Department of Transportation wants you to know that you'll be sharing the road with some 49 million other drivers this weekend. And, the Federal Trade Commission warns you to be extremely cautious in your online purchases on Cyber Monday. From your friends at The Way, enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.


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