The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) is a federal agency that was established in 1970. Operating under the Department of Labor, OSHA was created to help promote and maintain safe and healthy working conditions for employees.
In order to maintain proper working conditions, OSHA routinely creates new rules and updates its standards and regulations to address current issues or new problems. In line with this tradition, OSHA announced several updates that employers should expect to see in 2024. Summarized below are four major updates employers should take note of if they want to remain in compliance.
1. Injury and Illness Logs
Beginning March 2024, businesses with 100 or more employees in certain industries (including agricultural, food production, manufacturing, retail, wholesale, transportation, and medical and entertainment) will be required to electronically submit annual injury and illness logs and reports.
Specifically, employers must submit detailed information about each recordable injury and illness, including the date, physical location and severity of the injury or illness; the details about the worker who was injured; and information about how the injury or illness occurred.
2. National Emphasis Program
OSHA announced last year that it would establish a national program geared towards warehouses, processing facilities, distribution centers, and high-risk retail establishments. The purpose of the national program is to reduce hazards by increasing inspections for compliance with existing standards.
According to OSHA, there will be a renewed focus during the program’s three-year period on the following hazards:
According to OSHA, “heat is the leading cause of death among all weather-related phenomena.” And so, back in August 2023, OSHA released a number of options for inclusion in a proposed rule to address heat injury and illness prevention in outdoor and indoor workplaces.
The areas within the proposed rule that OSHA is seeking input are: (1) heat injury and illness prevention program; (2) hazard identification and assessment; (3) hazard prevention and control measures; (4) medical treatment and heat-related emergency response; (5) worker training; (6) recordkeeping; and (7) communication on multi-employer sites.
At this point, it is not certain there will be a rule in 2024, but OSHA’s announcement at least provides a roadmap for employers as to where it is likely heading in terms of heat hazards in the workplace.
4. OSHA Clarifies Scope of Incidents Qualifying as Workplace Violence
Back in May 2023, OHSA published a standard interpretation letter that broadened the scope of workplace injuries and violence. In recent history, injuries and violence were considered “workplace” – and thus within the recordkeeping regulation contained in 29 CFR Part 1904 – if they occurred at the jobsite. But according to the letter published by OSHA, the proper approach to the question of whether an incident is workplace violence will depend on whether the conditions involved were “occupational” or, put differently, related to work.
Employers should be mindful of this standard when reviewing relevant incidents going forward.
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