As of April 27, 2021, 29.1% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. With COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expanding to the general public, and states and cities relaxing COVID-19 restrictions, employers face the new challenge of navigating a partially vaccinated workforce. We previously addressed questions related to return-to-work and vaccination issues for employers here. Below are some additional, and recent, questions we’ve received from clients related to this topic.
Continue Reading Funny You Should Ask: Employer Considerations for a Partially Vaccinated Workforce

As mandated by President Biden’s January 21 Executive Order, OSHA has announced a National Emphasis Program (NEP) designed to protect workers from contracting COVID-19.  On March 12, 2021, OSHA announced its new national emphasis program that targets high-risk establishments in high-risk industries for programmed inspections and provides a heightened focus on employers that retaliate against employees who report or complain about unsafe working environments. In conjunction with the NEP, OSHA also issued an updated Interim Enforcement Plan to provide guidance on the policies and procedures it will employ to reduce and eliminate the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. The issuance of the NEP is a strong indication that OSHA enforcement activity will increase in the short term.
Continue Reading OSHA Enforcement Activity Relating to COVD-19 Exposures Expected to Increase Under New NEP and Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan

The FDA could approve two COVID-19 vaccines within a matter of days. However, drug makers have tried to keep expectations in check about how much vaccine they can deliver immediately and over the next few months as they grapple with supply chain and manufacturing challenges. In Safety Law Matters, we write about limited and

Register today to join our very own Healthcare lawyers, Jenna Brofsky and Timothy A. Hilton, and Husch Blackwell Labor and Employment and Health and Safety lawyers Brittany M. Falkowski and Avi Meyerstein as they present various issues and action steps employers should consider as they develop plans involving the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine. While there

Unfortunately, workplace violence is in the news every day.  OSHA is paying increasing attention to the workplace violence issue, particularly in the healthcare industry.  While there is no specific OSHA regulation addressing workplace violence, a recent decision supports OSHA’s use of the General Duty Clause in workplace violence cases in the healthcare industry.

In Secretary of Labor v. Integra Health Management, No 13-1124 (March 4, 2019), the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) upheld a violation of the General Duty Clause when it found an employer did not adequately address workplace violence hazards.  In that case, the company employed “service coordinators” to help its clients obtain medical care.  Health insurers send the clients to Integra after reviewing claim histories to identify individuals who are not receiving appropriate care.  In this case, a service coordinator was assigned to visit a client at his home and that service coordinator made notes in her report that the client made her “uncomfortable” and detailed his strange behavior.  On a following visit to the client, the service coordinator was stabbed by the client nine times and died.
Continue Reading OSHA, Workplace Violence, and the Healthcare Industry

In the last two months, the healthcare industry has seen both federal and state efforts to further regulate healthcare worker safety. Stakeholders and other jurisdictions are keeping an eye on these developments, which could spread to other states, as well.

While the federal legislation is focused on reducing workplace violence at healthcare facilities, an initiative in California will decide what additional regulations should be imposed to remove surgical plume and limit the exposure of healthcare professionals to surgical smoke in the state’s operating rooms.
Continue Reading In healthcare worker safety, California leads the way

Last week, OSHA published its new “Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs,” which advises employers in the healthcare industry and other private sector industries to establish comprehensive internal safety and health programs. The OSHA bulletin also provides extensive guidelines and resources for creating such programs.

In releasing the updated recommendations, OSHA argues that employers adopting such programs could reduce injuries and illnesses and promote sustainability. To the extent that this new guidance creates new compliance burdens and risks (see below), healthcare is likely to be one industry in which OSHA focuses its efforts. After all, OSHA believes that “[m]ore workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance industry sector than any other.”
Continue Reading OSHA issues recommendations for employer safety and health programs