We are three years into the Trump Administration, and we have seen a mixed bag of change and business as usual at OSHA in enforcement and rulemaking. We have watched late Obama-era OSHA rules get repealed, delayed, or amended and a modest boost in compliance assistance—the sort of policy shifts you expect to see in a transition from a Democratic to Republican Administration. However, we have seen plenty of the unexpected –such as increases in virtually every enforcement metric, including records for the number of $100K+ enforcement actions. Most surprising of all, OSHA still does not have an Assistant Secretary—the longest ever vacancy for the top job at OSHA—and it seems highly likely the Agency will remain without a leader for the entirety of this presidential term. As we move into an election year, the final year of President Trump’s first term, we expect more reshuffling of OSHA enforcement priorities and policies, and surely more surprises, so it is critical to stay abreast of OSHA developments.

Conn Maciel Carey’s 2020 OSHA Webinar Series includes free monthly programs presented by OSHA-specialist attorneys in the firm’s national OSHA Practice Group designed to give employers insight into changes and developments at OSHA during this remarkable time in OSHA’s history. 

To register for any individual webinar event, click the registration link in the program descriptions below. To register for the entire 2020 Series, click here to send an email request, and we will get you registered. If you miss any of the programs this year or missed any from prior years, here is a link to our webinar archive.

We are exploring CLE approval for this series.  If you are interested in CLE or other forms of Continuing Education credits, click here to complete a survey.

 

January 23, 2020 1:00 pm ET

OSHA's 2019 in Review and 2020 Forecast

Presented by the Partners in the OSHA Practice Group at Conn Maciel Carey

The ball has dropped, the confetti has been swept out of Times Square, and 2019 is in the books.  It’s time to look back and take stock of what we learned from and about OSHA over the past year.  More importantly, it is time to look ahead and assess what to expect from OSHA during this Presidential election year. In this webinar, the Partners in Conn Maciel Carey’s national OSHA Practice Group will review OSHA enforcement, rulemaking, and personnel developments from 2019, and will discuss the top OSHA issues employers should monitor and prepare for in the New Year.

Participants in this webinar will learn the following:

  • 2019 OSHA enforcement data and important case decisions

  • OSHA organizational developments

  • The future of OSHA enforcement

  • Rulemaking and deregulatory developments and predictions

  • Significant OSHA policy issues to watch out for in the New Year

Click here to register for this webinar.

February 25, 2020 1:00 pm ET

Post-Citation OSHA Settlement Tips and Strategies

Presented by Eric J. Conn, Kate McMahon, and Aaron Gelb

You just received a set of OSHA citations in the mail.  Now what?  Should we accept the citations and pay the penalty?  Should we participate in an Informal Settlement Conference with the OSHA Area Office?  Should we contest the citations?  If we contest, does that mean we’re heading to a trial?  What does a good settlement look like and how can we achieve our settlement goals?

This webinar will explain the post-citation process and provide tips and strategies for resolving OSHA citations in a manner that prevents future “Repeat” violations, reduces the penalty, mitigates the impact of the citations on potential criminal prosecutions and/or personal injury or wrongful death suits, and helps you avoid the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. 

During this webinar, participants will learn about:

  • Post-Citation options and processes 

  • How to assess the potential future impact of OSHA citations

  • Settlement goals

  • Tips and strategies to achieve settlement goals

 

Click here to register for this webinar.

March 25, 2020 1:00 pm ET

Strategies for Responding to Whistleblower Complaints

Presented by Kara Maciel, Aaron Gelb, and Lindsay DiSalvo

Over the past few years, employers have seen a significant uptick in retaliation claims filed by employees and investigated by federal agencies.  For example, in 2010, only approx. 30% of all charges filed with the EEOC included a retaliation claim, but that number shot past 50% as of 2018.  Employers have likewise seen a similar increase in the number of whistleblower claims filed with OSHA – a 74% increase in the number of complaints filed with OSHA from 2012 to 2018, the vast majority of which were filed under Sec. 11(c) of the OSH Act (retaliation based on protected safety acts).

When a whistleblower complaint is received, employers have a chance to explain why the complaints lacks merit.  The response is an opportunity for the employer to provide information so the agency investigating the complaint can close its file, whether that means OSHA decides an onsite inspection is unnecessary or the EEOC dismisses the charge of discrimination.  These responses can, however, create a written record of admissions that OSHA or the EEOC could use against the employer.  Employers should thus be strategic about the information shared at that early stage and should ensure there is a procedure in place for managing and developing these responses.

Participants in this webinar will learn about:

  • Applicable federal whistleblower and anti-retaliation laws

  • How the EEOC and OSHA evaluate whistleblower and retaliation claims

  • Strategies employers can use to effectively respond to retaliation complaints

  • Proactive measures employers can take to avoid employee complaints

 

Click here to register for this webinar.

April 16, 2020 4:00 pm ET

Key Cal/OSHA Issues California Employers Must Track

Presented by Andrew Sommer, Eric J. Conn, and Megan Shaked

The state of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, is perhaps the most aggressive and enforcement-heavy approved state OSH Program in the nation.  California employers face a host of requirements that other employers around the country do not.  Likewise, the Cal/OSHA inspection and appeal process creates several unique landmines for California employers.  

During this webinar, participants will learn about:

  • Data and trends in Cal/OSHA enforcement

  • Amended serious injury reporting requirements

  • New rules regarding wildfire smoke and training on Valley Fever

  • Other developments, such as an Indoor Heat Illness Rule, Workplace Violence in General Industry Rule, and others.

 

Click here to register for this webinar.

May 7, 2020 2:00 pm ET

Returning to Work Strategies: Employment and Workplace Safety Implications of COVID-19

Presented by Conn Maciel Carey's COVID-19 Taskforce

As the federal government and states begin to relax shutdown and stay-at-home orders and non-essential businesses begin to resume or ramp-up operations, employers need to plan for the safe and healthy return of their employees, customers, and guests back into the workplace.  During this webinar, participants will hear from members of Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force as they discuss how to develop and implement a Return-to-Work Plan.

Participants will learn about the following:
 

  • How to recall furloughed employees to qualify for loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program

  • New federal paid leave laws and their application to employees returning from furlough

  • Navigating the FLSA requirements for exempt employees who may be performing non-exempt work as work ramps up

  • Preventing third-party interference from labor unions and organizing attempts

  • COVID-19 Infection/Exposure Control Plans

  • Pre-shift Health Screening Protocols and best practices (e.g., temperature checks and health/symptom questionnaires)

  • Effective engineering and administrative controls to mitigate potential exposures to COVID-19 in the workplace

  • Decisions about Personal Protective Equipment, Respirators, Face Masks, and Face Coverings

  • Recording and Reporting to OSHA and workforce about confirmed employee COVID-19 infections

  • “Lessons learned” from the first wave of COVID-19 furloughs and how to prepare for the potential second wave in the Fall

June 16, 2020 1:00pm ET

OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Standards –
Top 5 Reasons to get it right and Top 5 employer mistakes

Presented by Micah Smith, Aaron Gelb, and Dan Deacon

Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) is an essential aspect of every safety and health program, helping to safeguard employees from a variety of workplace hazards. Its importance has been especially highlighted during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Given the important role that PPE plays, OSHA requires employers to assess their workplaces to determine whether hazards exist necessitating PPE and, if so, to select appropriate PPE, train employees how to properly use it and ensure that it is actually being worn. Failing to do this can lead to avoidable injuries, illnesses, and even fatalities.  But with such vague and broadly stated requirements, many employers struggle to conduct compliant hazard assessments, understand when PPE is required, select the appropriate PPE, and even identify who is responsible for providing PPE in the first place.

This webinar will highlight PPE issues implicated by COVID-19 in the workplace, discuss the most frequent PPE mistakes that employers make, explain some of the most misunderstood provisions of the applicable OSHA standards, and identify strategies to limit exposure to the most common PPE violations.

During this webinar, participants will learn about:

 

  • 5 reasons employers should prioritize complying with OSHA’s PPE requirements

  • 5 common PPE-related mistakes employers make 

  • PPE issues implicated by COVID-19 in the workplaces

  • Steps employers can take to mitigate PPE-related hazards and violations

 

Click here to register for this webinar.

July 23, 2020 1:00 pm ET

Everything You Need to Know about OSHA's General Duty Clause

Presented by Amanda R. Strainis-Walker, Kate McMahon, and Beeta Lashkari

The OSH Act’s “General Duty Clause” requires employers to provide their own employees a workplace free from recognized serious hazards. The breadth of OSHA’s enforcement authority under the General Duty Clause has been a moving target for decades.  Is it a “catch-all” provision?  Is it intended only to “fill the gaps” where OSHA has not promulgated a specific standard?  Is it just a placeholder for hazards OSHA intends to address by a specific rule in the future?  Or can it even provide OSHA authority to require actions beyond what is set by an existing regulation establishes a compliance standard? And where OSHA is using the General Duty Clause to cite employers, how often and in what contexts is OSHA using it, and what evidence is OSHA using to establish that a hazard is recognized by an employer or its industry? 

This webinar will examine these questions, and help employers understand the scope and breadth of OSHA’s authority under the General Duty Clause. We also will examine the OSH Review Commission’s recent positions on the General Duty Clause, including important General Duty Clause cases involving heat illness prevention and workplace violence. Understanding the authority given to OSHA under the General Duty Clause and the reasoning applied to these situations by the Review Commission will help employers navigate tricky situations where unregulated or under-regulated hazards may be present their workplaces.

Participants in this webinar will learn about:

  • The history of the General Duty Clause, how it has been interpreted

  • Recent enforcement trends related to use of the General Duty Clause

  • Recent OSHRC and Circuit Court cases involving the General Duty Clause

  • Elements of an OSHA citation case under the General Duty Clause

  • Possible defenses to General Duty Clause citations

  • How best to identify, manage, and address unregulated workplace hazards

 

​Click here to register for this webinar.

August 19, 2020 1:00pm ET

OSHA and Labor & Employment Law Issues Associated with Employee Discipline

Presented by Aaron GelbMark Trapp and Megan Shaked

Disciplining employees, a critical tool in enforcing workplace rules, has the potential to create problems, especially when relationships deteriorate and emotions run high. Even in situations where an employer is disciplining for the right reason, if it is handled incorrectly, a lawsuit or labor grievance could turn out to be costly. But in circumstances that warrant discipline, employers cannot just sit back. Productivity, employee morale, workplace culture, employee safety and health, and meeting goals are just some of the many considerations impacted by an effective employee discipline program. Consistent employee discipline can also benefit employers in litigation, union grievances, and inspections and investigations by the EEOC and OSHA.

This webinar will give you a blueprint to lawfully discipline employee and mitigate the risk of future litigation. ​Participants in this webinar will learn about:

  • The legal implications of disciplining employees

  • Tips for drafting effective discipline policies

  • Effective investigations into performance issues and misconduct

  • Strategies for carrying out effective discipline in a legally sound manner

  • Ways that employee discipline can be used offensively in litigation

 

Click here to register for this webinar.

September 22, 2020 1:00pm ET

Attorney-Client Privileged Audits and Investigations and OSHA's Self-Audit Policy

Presented by Kate McMahon, Micah Smith, Nick Scala, and Beeta Lashkari

 

Safety and health audits and accident or near-miss investigations are invaluable tools to identify hazards at a workplace and improve safety, but what happens when a government regulator demands copies of the reports and/or recommendations from the audit or investigation? When not done carefully or under attorney-client privilege, audit and investigation reports can serve as admissions and/or a roadmap for OSHA and MSHA investigators or plaintiffs’ attorneys regarding areas of non-compliance. This in turn can create a disincentive for employers to audit their facilities.

 

This webinar will explore the benefits of conducting audits and investigations at the direction of counsel so as to improve safety and compliance while also protecting the company and management from adverse use by 3rd party litigants or regulators. We will review audit and investigation and report-writing strategies and best practices. We will also review OSHA’s policy on self-audits and the reality of OSHA’s use of voluntary self-audits during inspections. And we will review best practices to manage MSHA’s unlimited lookback period for enforcement. 

Participants in this webinar will learn about:

  • Implementing attorney-client privileged audit programs and investigations

  • Maintaining privilege over results of audits and investigations, while still effectively implementing findings

  • How OSHA, MSHA or 3rd party litigants can use self-audits and inspections against an employer

  • OSHA and MSHA statute of limitations and policies on lookback for audit and incident and/or near miss reports

 

​Click here to register for this webinar.

October 22, 2020 1:00pm ET

Election Special - What to Expect from OSHA after the Upcoming Presidential Election Under Either Outcome

Presented by Kate McMahon, Amanda Walker, and Micah Smith

Next month, we will once again have the opportunity to cast a ballot to elect the President of the United States.  The election will result in either a second term for President Trump or a new Democratic Administration. As always, we expect the platforms and proposed polices of the candidates to be quite divergent, so we will offer some projections about how the government’s actions on workplace safety would differ under each candidate. In particular, we will discuss how the OSHA enforcement and rulemaking landscape is likely to change in a second Trump term and what to expect in those areas from a President from the Democratic Party.

 

This webinar will discuss the public positions taken by both candidates about safety and health enforcement and rulemaking, and the likely impacts depending on which candidate takes control of the Executive Branch in 2021, as well as which party takes control of the House and Senate.

Click here to register for this webinar.

November 17, 2020 1:00pm ET

Process Safety Update: The Latest with OSHA PSM & EPA RMP

Presented by Eric J. Conn, Amanda Strainis-Walker, Micah Smith and Beeta Lashkari

Following the tragic West Fertilizer explosion in 2013, then-President Obama issued an Executive Order directing OSHA, EPA and other agencies to “modernize” the way the government regulates chemical process safety.  OSHA and EPA took sweeping actions in response to the Executive Order, from enforcement initiatives (like a new wave of Refinery and Chemical Facility PSM National Emphasis Program inspections) to rulemaking and interpretation letters to an overhaul of OSHA’s PSM and EPA’s RMP regulatory programs. Then President Trump took office with a de-regulatory agenda, leaving the regulated community to wonder what this meant for the latest efforts to regulate process safety.

Rather than a unwavering drive toward deregulation, however, the Trump Administration initiatives in this area have been splintered, with some deregulatory initiatives proceeding, others coming to a complete halt, and still others being pared back in a deregulatory-lite fashion. For instance, we saw immediate delays and the beginning of rollbacks of new process safety regulations, yet enforcement initiatives appeared to move forward unhindered.  And now, with three years of the Trump Administration in the books and an important Presidential Election looming, it remains unclear where the regulatory landscape will ultimately settle.

This webinar will review the status and likely future of OSHA’s PSM Standard and EPA’s RMP Rule, as well as other major process safety developments from the federal government, state governments, and industry groups.

Click here to register for this webinar.

December 16, 2020 1:00pm ET

Delaying Retirement: Impact of America's Aging Workforce on OSHA and Employment Matters

Presented by Jordan SchwartzAmanda Strainis-Walker, and Beeta Lashkari

The single biggest factor affecting safety and health in America’s workplaces today is our aging workforce. Older workers offer valuable experience and job knowledge, but with that comes an increased risk of serious workplace injuries due to physiological changes affecting flexibility, strength, vision, hearing, and balance. Although older workers experience fewer total injuries than their junior counterparts, the injuries they do have tend to be more severe and require longer recovery times. With more than 30 million workers 55 years or older expected to be in the U.S. labor force by 2025, and huge numbers of workers remaining in the workforce well past traditional retirement age, employers face unique challenges in keeping employees safe and healthy and complying with a host of state and federal laws.

This webinar will review the realities of our nation’s aging workforce and how employers must carefully address these realities without running afoul of OSHA regulations and federal and state anti-discrimination laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans With Disabilities Act. Participants in this webinar will learn about:

  • Data and trends driving America’s aging workforce

  • Impact the aging workforce has on workplace safety and health

  • Related OSHA regulatory issues employers must monitor

  • Title VII, and other age and disability discrimination pitfalls.

 

​Click here to register for this webinar.

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