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OSHA Official Says Don't Blame the Worker

In a recent 'state of safety' address to the National Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, emphasized the need for companies to take full responsibility for worker injuries and not simply blame 'careless' workers. He pointed out that often the real cause of the injury is an unabated hazard the company failed to eliminate or take the necessary safety measures. Read the full text of his comments here.

OSHA Issues Proposed Rulemaking Clarifying the Ongoing Obligation to Make and Maintain Accurate Records of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses

OSHA has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that clarifies an employer's continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness throughout the five-year period during which the employer is required to keep the records.

"Accurate records are not simply paperwork, but have an important, in fact life-saving purpose," says Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "They will enable employers, employees, researchers and the government to identify and eliminate the most serious workplace hazards: ones that have already caused injuries and illnesses to occur."

OSHA is issuing this proposed rule in light of the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in AKM LLC v. Secretary of Labor (Volks) to clarify its long-standing position that the duty to record an injury or illness continues for as long as the employer must keep records of the recordable injury or illness. The proposed amendments add no new compliance obligations; the proposal would not require employers to make records of any injuries or illnesses for which records are not already required.

The proposed rule will be published in the July 29, 2015, issue of the Federal Register. Members of the public can submit written comments on the proposed rule at the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. Comments must be submitted by Sept. 27, 2015.

OSHA Directive Updates Inspection Procedures for Protecting Workers from Tuberculosis in Healthcare Settings

OSHA has updated instructions for conducting inspections and issuing citations related to worker exposures to tuberculosis in healthcare settings. This instruction incorporates guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, "Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis in Health-Care Settings, 2005." The revised directive does not create any additional enforcement burdens for employers; it simply updates the agency's inspection procedures with the most currently available public health guidance.

This directive also covers additional workplaces regarded as healthcare settings such as sites where emergency medical services are provided and laboratories handling clinical specimens that may contain M. tuberculosis. Other changes include: the introduction of a newer screening method for analyzing blood for M. tuberculosis; classifying healthcare settings as low risk, medium risk, or potential ongoing transmission; and reducing the frequency of TB screenings for workers.

According to the CDC, nearly one-third of the world's population is infected with TB, which kills almost 1.5 million people per year. In 2013, 9,582 TB cases were reported in the United States, and approximately 383 of those cases were among healthcare workers. Multidrug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant TB continue to pose serious threats to workers in healthcare settings. TB infection occurs when a susceptible person inhales droplets from an infected person who, for example, coughs, speaks or sneezes. It is the second most common cause of death from infectious disease in the world after HIV/AIDS.

More information on hazard recognition and solutions for reducing or eliminating the risks of contracting tuberculosis is available here.