On October 30, 2014, the National Nurses United (NNU) announced that nurses across the country will protest on November 12 to demand tougher Ebola protections. Specifically, nurses from California to Maine will hold strikes in 12 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, highlighted by a massive two-day strike of 18,000 nurses at 66 healthcare facilities in California. NNU anticipates protests will be conducted in many other states as it is ratcheting up its efforts to contact nurses across the country to participate.
Articles Discussing General Topics Under OSHA.
In the words of U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, “[t]he cell phones in our pockets can’t come at the cost of a worker’s life.” On October 14, 2014, the Department of Labor, Federal Communications Commission, and telecommunications industry leaders joined forces to discuss solutions to the surging trend of tragic deaths among cellular phone tower workers.
The public concern and confusion generated by the third reported diagnosis of Ebola in the U.S. has reached the workplace. What was once considered just a public health concern has become an employment issue as well. Employees are anxious about individuals who have travelled to and from West Africa, and about the potential for contracting the virus from co-workers, clients, customers, and patients.
With the diagnosis of yet another case of Ebola virus disease in the United States, and the lack of formal travel restrictions, many employers – particularly those in the healthcare industry – are left wondering how they should react to the very real concerns of their employees, patients and customers about the potential for transmission of this disease by those traveling to and from West Africa. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s limitations on questions and examinations related to personal medical conditions further confound employer responses. Finally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s position that Ebola is already covered by its Bloodborne Pathogens and Respiratory Protection standards is causing concerns that employers are out of compliance with an existing obligation.
Executive Summary: With the diagnosis of the second Ebola case in the United States on October 12, 2014 – one in which a healthcare worker contracted the lethal disease while performing her job duties – U.S. employers are examining what necessary precautions should be taken to control and prevent the spread of the disease. Perhaps the most important step for employers right now is to become educated and stay informed.
The White House held a “listening session” on the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order with major employer association representatives on Friday, October 13, 2014. The Executive action calls on the U.S. Department of Labor DOL to issue regulations that would impose multiple new obligations on federal government contractors.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a request for information (RFI) regarding chemical management methods and permissible exposure limits (PELs). According to a notice to be published in the October 10 edition of the Federal Register, the agency is “reviewing its overall approach to managing chemical exposures in the workplace and seeks stakeholder input about more effective and efficient approaches that addresses challenges found with the current regulatory approach.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has reached the proportions of an international health emergency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the first U.S. case of the disease was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas on September 30, 2014. There is currently no vaccine for this virus, although efforts are underway to develop a vaccine.
Employees of a Brooklyn medical facility were allegedly exposed to head, eye, face and groin injuries and intimidation and threats during routine interactions with patients and visitors. An inspection by OSHA reportedly found approximately 40 incidents of workplace violence between February 7 and April 12, 2014. These incidents involved employees who were threatened or physically and verbally assaulted by patients and visitors, or when breaking up altercations between patients. The most serious incident was an assault of a nurse, who sustained severe brain injuries when she was attacked while working. As a result of its alleged failure to adequately protect its employees against workplace violence, the medical center faces $78,000 in fines.
OSHA has announced that it will extend the comment period on the proposed rule to improve the tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses to Oct. 14, 2014. The proposal, published on Nov. 8, 2013, would amend OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information that employers are already required to keep.
In 2013, the communications industry was confronted by an increasing number of fatalities involving worker falls from cell tower sites. Alarmingly, OSHA recorded fourteen fatalities, all of which were determined preventable — either a result of an employer’s failure to provide fall protection or an employee’s failure to use the equipment. In the wake of this statistic, on July 17, 2014, OSHA implemented a new directive governing all work activities on communication towers that involve the use of a hoist to lift personnel to or from their workstations.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been tasked by Congress to enforce the whistleblower provisions of 22 different statutes. These laws protect workers in many industries throughout the country from retaliation when they report unsafe working conditions, fraud or something that would endanger the public.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched a web page devoted to hospital worker safety. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, U.S. hospitals recorded 250,000 work-related injuries and illnesses, almost 60,000 of them causing employees to miss work. These statistics, according to OSHA, make hospitals one of the most hazardous places to work, even more dangerous for employees than working in construction or manufacturing.
If you operate a nursing home or residential care facility, it is time to take a hard, critical look at the health and safety risks in your workplace. Failure to correct problems could prove a very expensive mistake – as a nursing home in New Jersey recently discovered.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) annual Workplace Injury and Illness Summary, private sector employers reported approximately 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2012, or about 3.4 instances per 100 full-time equivalent workers, down from 3.5 instances per 100 workers reported in 2011. This data is in keeping with the steady decline of reported injury and illness rates over the past five years.