Majority Leader cites CWS letter in OSHA Volks CRA remarks

“As the Coalition for Workplace Safety recently pointed out, this regulation does ‘nothing to improve worker health and safety,’ it ‘directly contradicts both clear statutory language and two U.S. Court of Appeals rulings,’ and it also represents ‘one of the most egregious end runs around Congress’ power to write the laws.’

The Majority Leader’s comments can be found here.

CWS Letter To Senate Leadership Shows Broad Support For Volks Reg CRA Action

See the CWS letter here.

CWS Calls On Congress To Invalidate OSHA Volks Regulation Through CRA

The Coalition for Workplace Safety sent letters to key leaders of the House of Represenatives and the Senate seeking action on harmful OHSA regulation.

CWS Responds To OSHA Injury Reporting Regulation

CWS ISSUES STATEMENT OPPOSING NEW OSHA INJURY REPORTING RULE
Says Rule Will Not Advance Cause of Workplace Safety

Washington, D.C. — Despite repeated requests and appeals to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has issued a rule today that will profoundly – and negatively – impact the American business community.  Upon the release of the OSHA Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, Coalition for Workplace Safety co-chairs Marc Freedman and Amanda Wood issued the following statement:

“Workplace safety is of the utmost importance to our members, however the announcement of an ill-advised and poorly-written regulation will only result in more regulatory burden with no guarantees to improve workplace safety.

“Without authority to do so, OSHA intends to post employer, location and incident specific injury data.  The CWS is especially concerned about the damage that could come from the disclosure of sensitive and proprietary information – which companies go to great lengths to protect.  Just as troubling will be the mischaracterization that will result when incidents, such as bee stings, slips and falls, and even heart attacks that do not reflect an employer’s safety culture are posted.
“This rule reverses OSHA’s long standing approach that permitted employers to record injuries without fear of disclosure and therefore use the OSHA recordkeeping process as an internal management tool.  Publicizing this data makes the mere recording of any injury an act of disclosure with associated negative impacts.

“The CWS believes OSHA’s new Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses is fatally-flawed and will not help protect employees.”

Further, CWS released its Coalition for Workplace Safety Fact Sheet on OSHA Injury Reporting Regulation.

Video: U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Agency Guidance

Administration guidance continues to vex businesses because it cuts them out of the regulatory process, Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tells Bloomberg BNA.

Video can be found here.

CWS Files Written Comments on Supplemental NPRM

Click here to view CWS Written Comments on Supplemental NPRM

CWS Comments On OSHA Injury Illness Electronic Reporting Rule

The Coalition for Workplace Safety filed these comments with OSHA on March 10, 2014.

Jackson Lewis Attorney Testifies for CWS at Public Hearing on Proposed OSHA Electronic Reporting Rule

On January 9, Tressi Cordaro of Jackson Lewis presented on behalf of the Coalition for Workplace Safety at OSHA’s Public Meeting on the agency’s “Proposed Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.” Ms. Cordaro expressed concern over the potential negative impact of the proposed rules on workplace safety. She also noted that the proposal would require public disclosure of sensitive information and that information could be misleading and misused. Ms. Cordaro’s comments are available here CWS – Public Hearing Comments.

Workplace Safety Requires the Full Story

NAM’s Labor Employment Policy Team took part in OSHA’s public meeting on their proposed rule to publicize injury and illness data. From the outset, the NAM has opposed this rule for a few very simple reasons: 1) OSHA has the tools they need to improve workplace safety at their disposal already; 2) This data would be presented without context and could result in a serious misrepresentation of a particular company or industry; 3) This rule gets us no closer to the shared goal of a safer workplace.

A safe workplace is the top priority of manufacturers. Joe Trauger, NAM’s VP of Human Resources Policy, and Amanda Wood, NAM’s Director of Employment Policy, spoke on behalf of manufacturers at today’s public meeting. The comments they offered centered around the following themes – the current regulations are already working, public disclosure is detrimental to employers, the forced disclosure of proprietary information, and a violation of individual privacy rights. These themes were repeated throughout the day by other participants concerned with the impact of OSHA’s proposed rule.

Mr. Trauger closed the NAM’s comments by stating, “I would like to take a moment to remind the agency that manufacturers do not and cannot view regulations singularly as we so often do here in Washington. Manufacturers don’t have the luxury of focusing on or complying with one regulation at a time – they must comply with them all. This proposed regulation, on the heels of the recent Letter of Interpretation with respect to unions and or community organizations accompanying an OSHA inspector in non-unionized facilities, is alarming and viewed with great skepticism within the employer community.”

He’s absolutely right – the fallout from such a rule could be devastating to a company or industry judged on incomplete or misleading data. Instead let’s get OSHA focused on working more collaboratively with employers so they can reach the goal they both share – a safer workplace.

Originally posted at Shopfloor.org 

When is a Regulation Not a Regulation?

This article originally appeared on FreeEnterprise.com.

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Much ink (or the digital equivalent) has been spilled criticizing the Obama administration’s aggressive and expansive regulatory agenda.  And as burdensome and ill-conceived as many of these regulations are, at least they are being developed through the normal regulatory process of notice and comment with supporting analyses and data.

Far more pernicious is when the administration pushes out substantive changes in regulations or policy without the benefit of rulemakings.  Over the last few years the Obama Department of Labor has not just been pushing the envelope of what can be done through non-regulatory actions, they have blown the envelope up.  

We call these actions “subregulatory” because they exist at a lower level in the hierarchy of activities, are often below the radar, but still have significant impacts.  Subregulatory actions are substantive changes without transparency, input from affected parties, or accountability.  They include guidance documents like OSHA interpretations, new compliance directives, and wage determinations under Davis-Bacon for job classifications not statutorily authorized.

By using this approach, OSHA and other agencies avoid justifying their actions or do any sort of impact analysis. They also avoid having to take comments or any input from those parties that would object. These are executive diktats which, unlike regulations, are very hard to challenge.

Here are three examples from OSHA that demonstrate how far the Department of Labor has taken this approach.

Letter of Interpretation Permits Union Representatives to Accompany an OSHA Inspector at Non-Union Workplaces

On February 21, 2013, OSHA issued a letter of interpretation (LOI) saying that a union representative is permitted to accompany an OSHA inspector during a walk-around inspection at a non-union workplace.  The LOI was in response to a request from the United Steel Workers.  The regulations explicitly state that any employee representative “shall be” an employee of the employer, unless the OSHA inspectors believe “good cause has been shown” to include someone with special expertise who can aid in the inspection.  OSHA blew right past this narrow exception and context to say that employees can now designate any union representative, community activist, or any other third party as their representative during OSHA inspections. This dramatic reversal opens the door for OSHA inspections to be less about workplace safety and more about a union or other party’s campaign against non-union employers.

Employer Safety Incentive and Disincentive Policies and Practices

On March 12, 2012, OSHA issued a memo to regional administrators outlining four scenarios that would constitute violations of protections for whistleblowers. Among the scenarios is one where employers implement a safety incentive program that rewards employees based on the rate of injuries or fatalities.  Despite no other mention of incentive programs anywhere in the regulations, statute or other OSHA materials, OSHA created a consequence for employers who maintain these programs.

Proposed Interpretation of “Feasible” Under Noise Exposure Standard

On October 19, 2010, OSHA published in the Federal Register a proposed new interpretation of the term “feasible” as it applies to administrative and engineering controls under the noise exposure standards. Currently, OSHA’s enforcement policy gives employers considerable latitude to rely on personal protective equipment (such as ear plugs or ear muffs) when noise protection is required rather than forcing employers to use administrative (such as schedule rotations), or engineering (such as sound dampening or other technology) controls.  Under the new interpretation, administrative and engineering controls would have been considered economically feasible if “implementing such controls will not threaten the employer’s ability to remain in business.”  An independent economic analysis concluded that the potential impact of this proposal on employers would be more than $1 billion.  The Chamber objected that such a major change warranted a full rulemaking rather than a mere reinterpretation without any of the protections associated with the regulatory process.  Once the impact of this non-regulatory change became known, OSHA was forced to withdraw it.

This administration’s regulatory agenda is problematic enough. When the administration decides to change regulations and policy by avoiding proper regulatory procedure any claims to being transparent or accountable are eviscerated.