The Safety Dance
Jun 16, 2021


The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a mandatory workplace safety rule aimed at protecting workers from COVID-19.  However, it only applies to health care settings.  The rule, an emergency temporary standard (ETS), takes effect as soon as it’s published in the Federal Register and employers must comply with most provisions within 14 days and with the remaining provisions within 30 days.



The ETS establishes new requirements for settings where employees provide healthcare or health care support services and is aimed at protecting workers facing the highest coronavirus hazards.  Non-exempt facilities will be required to conduct a hazard assessment and to have a written plan to mitigate virus spread, and healthcare employers will be required to provide some employees with N95 respirators or other personal protective equipment.  In addition, there are requirements for physical distance between workers or barriers, if possible, and paid time off.



According to new OSHA guidance released June 10, most workplaces where people are fully vaccinated no longer need to provide any protection from the coronavirus.  The OSHA guidance reflects new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released in May that says fully vaccinated people can safely go without masks and physical distancing in most situations.



The U.S. Department of Labor released its Spring regulatory agenda, which includes OSHA will propose that establishments with 250 or more employees provide electronic submission of their injury and illness data from Forms 300 and 301.  The agency currently requires submission of only Form 300A, a yearly summary of injury and illness data, instead of the two more detailed forms.  A notice of proposed rulemaking is scheduled to be published in December.



The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has withdrawn a pending mask regulation while it considers a rule that more closely aligns with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reopening that occurred yesterday.  At tomorrow’s June 17 Cal/OSHA hearing, the board chairman will state the goal was to review and change the regulation so that it matches up with the CDC and the California Department of Public Health, so that they are on the same page.  The new rule could potentially go into effect by month’s end.


Cannabis Updates


A new California civil service rule limits the use of urine cannabis tests in disciplining state workers, finding that urine samples do not accurately reflect whether an employee is intoxicated at work.  The State Personnel Board issued a “precedential decision” that states that merely testing positive for past marijuana use should not be grounds for discipline or dismissal for most public employees.  The decision does not apply to police or certain other professions where employees are prohibited from using drugs.



A new Temple research study finds that legalizing marijuana leads to fewer workers’ compensation claims.  The study found that following a state’s legalization of recreational marijuana, there’s about a 20% reduction in the probability that a person reports having any income from workers’ compensation.  In states that have adopted a medical marijuana law, residents of the state experience about a 7% reduction, and an increase of a 13.3% reduction in medical marijuana states that provide employment protection for workers. 


Around the Country


The Department of Transportation, which includes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), announced on Friday that they will move to require or set standards for automatic emergency braking systems on new heavy trucks.  It will also require what it said are rigorous testing standards for autonomous vehicles and set up a national database to document automated-vehicles crashes.  The NHTSA plans to publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register in April of next year, which will then open it up to public comments.  In 2016, NHTSA brokered a deal with 20 automakers representing 99% of U.S. new passenger vehicles to voluntarily make automatic emergency braking standard on all models by Sept. 1, 2022. 



A bill that would allow business interruption insurers in the state to add a rider for virus and pandemic coverage is moving forward in the Garden State.  Assembly Bill 4551 would allow the Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) to review and approve policy riders on an expedited basis, which would move the product more quickly to the consumer once an insurer decides to offer it.  If passed, the bill would take effective immediately and apply to insurance policies issued on or after the date the New Jersey Commissioner of Banking and Insurance approves a rider for global virus transmission or pandemic coverage. 



Since the summer recess periods will be starting, we have decided to take a look at “refreshing” The Way during the summer months.  This means that we will be on hiatus between the July 4th holiday and Labor Day.  We want to hear from our readers!  It has been a pleasure getting to know our readers for almost six years, and we value your opinion.  So beginning next week, we’ll be including a short survey at the end of each edition.  We will have two more editions before our summer hiatus.  Until next week, we wish you the best and will keep you informed.


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