Fed OSHA’s New COVID-19 Vaccine-Mandate Emergency Rulemaking [Webinar Recording]

On September 17, 2021, attorneys from Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s COVID-19 Task Force presented a webinar reviewing OSHA’s new COVID-19 emergency rulemaking focused on vaccine and testing mandates for many US employers.

On September 9th, President Biden revealed a new COVID-19 Action Plan with one of several key goals to “Vaccinate the Unvaccinated.” The most notable aspect of that plan is a directive to federal OSHA to develop a 2nd COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard requiring all but small employers in all industries to implement “soft” vaccine mandates; i.e., require employees to either be fully vaccinated or get weekly testing. The President also directed OSHA to include in this new ETS a requirement that employers provide paid time for employees to get vaccinated and recover from ill effects of the vaccine. Separately, the President issued Executive Orders setting “hard” vaccine mandates for federal contractors and healthcare workers.

The President’s announcement was lean on details, and prompted as many questions as it answered. The attorneys from CMC’s OSHA and Employment Law practices discussed our take on the burning questions raised by this latest development on the COVID-19 front: Continue reading

Q&As About Fed OSHA’s New COVID-19 Vaccine-Mandate Emergency Rulemaking

By Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Taskforce

Last Thursday, September 9th, President Biden announced that he is directing OSHA to issue a new Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that would require many employers to provide paid time for employees to get and recover from getting vaccinated and to implement “soft” vaccine mandates; i.e., require employees either to be fully vaccinated or get weekly COVID-19 testing, as well as issuing new Executive Orders requiring federal contractors to implement “hard” vaccine mandates.

While we anticipated OSHA would reconsider the need for a broader COVID-19 ETS applicable beyond just the healthcare sector in light of the impact of the Delta variant, President Biden’s decision to use a new ETS focused on vaccinations and testing as a central element of his newly unveiled Path Out of the Pandemic – COVID-19 Action Plan raises a host of challenges for employers across the country.  To help our clients and friends in industry prepare for and navigate this emergency rulemaking, we have prepared an extensive list of Q&As about OSHA’s Emergency Rulemaking for a COVID-19 Vaccine-Mandate ETS.  Also, here are links to an article we prepared summarizing OSHA’s new emergency rulemaking, a recording of the webinar about the ETS we conducted last week, and the slides we used.

We understand from our contacts at OSHA that the agency will move much more quickly to prepare and send this ETS to the White House, so it is imperative that the employer community come together now to identify shared concerns and considerations and begin advocating to OSHA and OMB so that this new ETS is one with which industry can reasonably manage.  To that end, Conn Maciel Carey LLP is organizing a coalition of employers and trade groups to advocate for the most reasonable fed OSHA COVID-19 emergency rule focused on vaccination and testing possible.

For several reasons, we believe this emergency rulemaking may be the OSHA rulemaking that has the most opportunity for industry influence that we can recall.  First, Continue reading

MSHA and OSHA Jurisdiction: When, How, and Why to Challenge Your Regulator [Webinar Recording]

On September 14, 2021, Nicholas W. Scala presented a webinar regarding MSHA and OSHA Jurisdiction: When, How, and Why to Challenge Your Regulator.

The line of demarcation between MSHA and OSHA jurisdiction is clear-cut and it is easy to determine which regulator has authority over your operations, right? While that is sometimes the case, where the MSHA/OSHA Interagency Agreement specifically outlines which agency has authority of which operation, there are most definitely gray areas. Whether looking at where the mining process ends and manufacturing beings, or what is the exact definition of mineral milling and how is it applied, there are frequently questions and concerns regarding MSHA/OSHA jurisdiction. However, frequently employers just accept the status quo or agency determination without question. This presentation will help employers ask the right questions regarding MSHA/OSHA jurisdiction at their facilities and determine whether or not challenging the agency in control is merited and worthwhile.

Participants in this webinar learned the following: Continue reading

[Bonus Webinar] Fed OSHA’s 2nd COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard: Vaccine and Testing Mandates

Join attorneys from Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s COVID-19 Task Force on Fri., Sept. 17th at 1 PM ET for a webinar reviewing OSHA’s 2nd COVID-19 emergency rulemaking focused on vaccine and testing mandates for many US employers.

On Sept. 9th, Pres. Biden revealed a new COVID-19 Action Plan with one of several key goals to “Vaccinate the Unvaccinated.” The most notable aspect of that plan is a directive to federal OSHA to develop a 2nd COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard requiring all but small employers in all industries to implement “soft” vaccine mandates; i.e., require employees to either be fully vaccinated or get weekly testing. The President also directed OSHA to include in this new ETS a requirement that employers provide paid time for employees to get vaccinated and recover from ill effects of the vaccine. Separately, the President issued Executive Orders setting “hard” vaccine mandates for federal contractors and healthcare workers.

The President’s announcement was lean on details, and prompted as many questions as it answered. Join the attorneys from CMC’s OSHA and Employment Law practices to talk through our take on the burning questions raised by this latest development on the COVID-19 front: Continue reading

[Webinar] MSHA and OSHA Jurisdiction: When, How, and Why to Challenge Your Regulator

On Tuesday, September 14, 2021 at 1 p.m. ET, join Nick Scala for a webinar regarding MSHA and OSHA Jurisdiction: When, How, and Why to Challenge Your Regulator.

CaptureThe line of demarcation between MSHA and OSHA jurisdiction is clear-cut and it is easy to determine which regulator has authority over your operations, right? While that is sometimes the case, where the MSHA/OSHA Interagency Agreement specifically outlines which agency has authority of which operation, there are most definitely gray areas. Whether looking at where the mining process ends and manufacturing beings, or what is the exact definition of mineral milling and how is it applied, there are frequently questions and concerns regarding MSHA/OSHA jurisdiction. However, frequently employers just accept the status quo or agency determination without question. This presentation will help employers ask the right questions regarding MSHA/OSHA jurisdiction at their facilities and determine whether or not challenging the agency in control is merited and worthwhile.

Participants in this webinar will learn the following:

Continue reading

Federal OSHA to Issue Another COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard Setting a “Soft” Vaccine-Mandate

By Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Taskforce

Yesterday, September 9th, President Biden issued new Executive Orders requiring federal contractors and healthcare employers to implement “hard” vaccine mandates, and directed federal OSHA to issue a new Emergency Temporary Standard that would require many employers to provide paid time for employees to get vaccinated and recover from the vaccine, and to implement “soft” vaccine mandates; i.e., require employees to either be fully vaccinated or get weekly COVID-19 testing.

The push now for a broader COVID-19 ETS applicable beyond just healthcare is a step for which we have been bracing for a while now.  In June, when OSHA issued its COVID-19 ETS that was limited only to the healthcare industry, the vast majority of employers dodged the bullet, but since the explosion of new cases because of the Delta variant, we began to see that bullet more as a boomerang, likely to come back around for the rest of industry.  Here are five signals we picked up that OSHA was likely to revisit its decision in June to limit its COVID-19 ETS to only healthcare employers:

    1. The rate of community transmission and COVID-19 deaths around the country has returned to the level we were experiencing in the Spring of this year when OSHA delivered to OMB a proposed ETS that was written to cover all industries.  To the extent the decline in cases and deaths was a major factor in OSHA’s decision to limit the ETS to just healthcare, that factor no longer cuts in favor of a healthcare-only rule.
    2. Between the time OSHA delivered the broad proposed ETS and the time it issued the narrow healthcare-only ETS, the CDC released groundbreaking guidance relaxing COVID-19 protocols for vaccinated individuals.  OSHA’s decision to limit the ETS to just healthcare only a month later had to be influenced by that seismic shift.  But since that time, in July, CDC backtracked on its guidance for vaccinated workers, causing OSHA to adjust its own guidance in that regard.
    3. Since issuing the ETS for healthcare, OSHA has been under pressure from national unions and worker advocacy groups to expand the ETS to all industries, both in the form of written comments during the ETS’s post-issuance comment period and a lawsuit filed by AFL-CIO challenging OSHA’s decision to limit the ETS to just healthcare.
    4. There has been a growing tension between the Biden Administration and certain Republican governors, particular DeSantis in Florida and Abbott in Texas, around mask and vaccine mandates.  The Biden Administration could resolve that tension by issuing a specific federal OSHA regulation setting requirements for masking and vaccinations, which would likely preempt conflicting state laws.
    5. The White House has changed its tune about strict COVID-19 protocols and vaccine mandates dramatically since the OSHA ETS was issued.  The Administration’s decision to limit the ETS to healthcare only was likely at least partially politically-motivated; i.e., a broad ETS was too unpopular due to the massive decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths.  However, we have started to see President Biden take politically risky moves around vaccinations; e.g., reinstituting mask recommendations for vaccinated individuals and setting a “soft” mandate for federal workers and contractors and encouraging industry to set similar mandates.  If the politics of aggressive COVID-19 requirements influenced OSHA’s decision to issue a narrow rule in June, it appears the Administration has changed its political calculation in the face of the spread of the Delta variant surge.

Those were the main signals we saw that kept us up at night worried OSHA would deliver to OMB a new or amended COVID-19 ETS that would apply to all industries.  But President Biden’s announcements yesterday sent the strongest signal yet that we will soon see further regulatory action from federal OSHA on the COVID-19 front.  A lot of questions remain, and we expect those to be answered in time as the new rules take effect, but we wanted to share with you what we know so far, as well as our preliminary thoughts/speculation about some of those questions.

What Happened Yesterday?

Let’s start with the President’s “Path Out of the Pandemic: POTUS COVID-19 Action Plan.” Continue reading

MSHA Publishes Proposed Rule on Safety Programs for Surface Mobile Equipment

By: Nicholas W. Scala 

Today, September 9, 2021, the Mine Safety & Health Administration (“MSHA”) published its proposed rule on Safety Programs for Surface Mobile Equipment. A rule, that if finalized, would become incorporated in 30 C.F.R. §§56, 57, and 77, for surface Metal/Nonmetal (“M/NM”) and coal mining, and surface areas as underground M/NM and coal mines. Importantly, in its proposed state, the rule specifically excludes belt conveyors, which MSHA historically groups with mobile equipment under its Powered Haulage category for enforcement and data collection.

While it isn’t a surprise the MSHA published the proposed rule, the agency has discussed the rulemaking on its quarterly stakeholder calls in 2021 and since early 2020, it is somewhat surprising that a Trump Administration rulemaking continued to move forward under the Biden Administration. Additionally, so, as MSHA still does not have an Assistant Secretary of Labor for MSHA confirmed, or even nominated.Mobile Equipment Safety Prgoram Snip

The rulemaking process for the Safety Programs for Surface Mobile Equipment began to gain momentum after MSHA issued a June 2018 request for information (“RFI”) from industry stakeholders. The RFI, entitled Safety Improvement Technologies for Mobile Equipment at Surface Mines, and for Belt Conveyors at Surface and Underground Mines, sought feedback regarding accident and injury reducing technologies that could be (or have been successfully) implemented in the mining industry. In addition to the RFI, MSHA also held six stakeholder meetings (and one webinar) to discuss the same. The RFI and MSHA’s efforts also aligned with MSHA initiation of a Powered Haulage Safety (and enforcement) Initiative, which continues to this day.

As a result of the RFI and stakeholder meeting process, MSHA determined to develop a rule focusing on mandating the implementation of operator created safety programs rather than the incorporation of new technologies, such as mandatory seat belt interlocks, proximity sensors or back-up cameras to name a few. MSHA determined that each operator would be best situated to determine the appropriate and feasible technology for its mine, but this decision also provides MSHA with a more open ended regulation that is not beholden to the technology of today 20-30 years from now.

The Proposed Rule

MSHA proposes three regulations to be created by the rulemaking, §56.23000 – 23004, §57.23000 – 23004, and §77.2100 – 2104. The three standards as proposed contain the same obligations. For review purposes, below is the proposed language of §56.23000 – 23004. Continue reading

Mid-Year MSHA Update and FMSHRC Significant Decision Review (Webinar Recording)

On August 19, 2021, Nicholas W. Scala presented a webinar regarding a Mid-Year MSHA Update and FMSHRC Significant Decision Review.

The first year in an administration is full of change and depending on the speed with which an MSHA Assistant Secretary is confirmed, by mid-year the agency can begin to take shape for the coming years. Therefore, maybe even more so than other years, it is imperative that we keep tabs on MSHA, and its evolving staff and priorities. This webinar will take a look at what has transpired at MSHA in 2021, including enforcement, new initiatives, and/or rulemaking. Additionally, it will review significant case decisions that have come down from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (FMSHRC) and its Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) that will impact the mining industry.

Participants in this webinar learned the following: Continue reading

Announcing Conn Maciel Carey’s MSHA Webinar Library

Since 2017, Conn Maciel Carey LLP’s MSHA  Workplace Safety Practice Group has conducted regular webinars to give employers insight into critical developments about MSHA. We have compiled the recordings from those Annual MSHA Webinar Series and have created a comprehensive webinar library so you can easily navigate and find relevant MSHA regulatory programs.

Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel to access all of our past webinars and get an email notification when new recordings become available.  

Click the links in the schedule below for program descriptions for the rest of the 2021 MSHA Webinar Series and register today or send us an email to register for all future webinars.

Mid-Year MSHA Update and
FMSHRC Significant Case Review

Thursday, August 19th

Contesting MSHA Citations and Orders: Tips and Strategies when Challenging

Wednesday, October 27th

MSHA and OSHA Jurisdiction:
When, How, and Why to Challenge Your Regulator

Tuesday, September 14th

Recap of Year One of the Biden Administration

Tuesday, December 14th

Check out our new webinar libraries for Labor & Employment and OSHA.

 

[Webinar] Mid-Year MSHA Update and FMSHRC Significant Decision Review

On Thursday, August 19, 2021 at 1 p.m. ET, join Nicholas W. Scala for a webinar regarding a Mid-Year MSHA Update and FMSHRC Significant Decision Review.

The first year in an administration is full of change and depending on the speed with which an MSHA Assistant Secretary is confirmed, by mid-year the agency can begin to take shape for the coming years. Therefore, maybe even more so than other years, it is imperative that we keep tabs on MSHA, and its evolving staff and priorities. This webinar will take a look at what has transpired at MSHA in 2021, including enforcement, new initiatives, and/or rulemaking. Additionally, it will review significant case decisions that have come down from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (FMSHRC) and its Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) that will impact the mining industry.

Participants in this webinar will learn the following: Continue reading