Permanent COVID-19 Standard for Healthcare Workers Still Slated for the Fall

The recently released spring rulemaking agenda reflected a September 2022 target for a permanent COVID-19 rule for healthcare workers. Although the spring rulemaking agenda outlines a non-binding schedule, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker has confirmed that the permanent COVID-19 standard should meet, or at worst nearly meet the September timeline.

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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Issues Guidebook on Protecting Temporary Workers

The use of “leased” employees continues to skyrocket. Between 1992 and 2017, it is estimated that the number of people working for employee leasing firms increased 682%, from 341,884 to 2.7 million. There are a variety of reasons companies use leased employees. However, host businesses should be aware that even though they are not the “employer” of record, they still have safety and health obligations under OSHA. Under OSHA’s Multi-Employer Citation Policy, CPL 2-0.124 (the “Multi-Employer Policy”), more than one employer may be citable for a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard in certain circumstances, including an employer that exposes an employee to the hazard. This is an important reminder because, under normal circumstances, leased employees may not be provided the same level of training as a host company’s employees.

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OSHA Releases Updated Agenda For Rulemaking

On June 21, 2022, the Department of Labor released the Spring 2022 rulemaking agenda. The dates listed on the schedule are non-binding but reflect priority issues for OSHA.

The newly published agenda makes clear that the much-anticipated heat illness rules remain at the “pre-rule” stage, and it is unclear when the agency will publish proposed rules related to the same. Similarly, rules related to the prevention of workplace violence in health care and social assistance remain delayed, with the current schedule showing a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act review in September 2022.

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Is a General Contractor Liable for Safety Violations of its Subcontractors under OSHA?

The short answer is the proverbial attorney response, “it depends.” Under OSHA’s multi-employer citation policy, an employer may be held responsible for the violations of other employers where it could reasonably be expected to prevent or detect and abate the violations due to its supervisory authority and control over the worksite. In Secretary of Labor v. Summit Contracting Group, OSHRC Docket No. 18-1451 (May 10, 2022), the two-member Commission determined that the 11th Circuit has never explicitly adopted or rejected the multi-employer doctrine, and thus applied Commission precedent to the circumstances of the case. After doing so, the Commission ultimately reversed the administrative law judge’s decision and vacated a fall protection citation issued against a general contractor for the failure of its subcontractor’s employees to use fall protection.

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