OSHA Issues Guide on Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard

OSHA Guide on Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a guide to help businesses comply with its new standard on exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust, a known carcinogen that can lead to silicosis, a lung disease.

OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to the dust, including 2 million construction workers. The booklet advises that the standard, published this June and effective in June 2018, is not a regulation and “it neither creates new legal obligations nor alters existing obligations created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards or the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act).”

The guide is for general industry and maritime.  A separate standard and guide is available for the construction industry.

ACCESS THE GUIDE ONLINE


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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HHS Improves HIPAA Breach Web Reporting Tool

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have launched a revised web tool that puts important information into the hands of individuals, empowering them to better identify recent breaches of health information and to learn how all breaches of health information are investigated and successfully resolved.

The HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool (HBRT) features improved navigation for both those looking for information on breaches and ease-of-use for organizations reporting incidents.  The tool also helps educate industry on the types of breaches that are occurring, industry-wide or within particular sectors, and how breaches are commonly resolved following investigations launched by OCR, which can help industry improve the security posture of their organizations.

“HHS heard from the public that we needed to focus more on the most recent breaches and clarify when entities have taken action to resolve the issues that might have led to their breaches,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D.  “To that end, we have taken steps to make this website, which features only larger breaches, a more positive, relevant source of information for concerned consumers.”

HHS OCR originally released the HBRT in 2009, as required by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The HRBT makes available to the public information that  entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) report to OCR when they are involved in breaches of unsecured protected health information of 500 or more individuals.  The tool includes: the name of the entity; state where the entity is located; number of individuals affected by the breach; the date of the breach; type of breach (e.g., hacking/IT incident, theft, loss, unauthorized access/disclosure); and location of the breached information (e.g., laptop, paper records, desktop computer).

HIPAA also requires the covered entity to promptly notify affected individuals of a breach, and, in some cases, notify the media.

“The HBRT provides health care organizations and consumers with the ability to more easily review breaches reported to OCR,” said Roger Severino, Director of OCR.  “Furthermore, greater access to timely information strengthens consumer trust and transparency – qualities central to the Administration’s focus on a more innovative and effective government.”

New features of the HBRT include:

  • Enhanced functionality that highlights breaches currently under investigation and reported within the last 24 months;
  • New archive that includes all older breaches and information about how breaches were resolved;
  • Improved navigation to additional breach information; and
  • Tips for consumers.

HHS plans on expanding and improving the site over time to add functionality and features based on feedback.  The HBRT provides transparency to the public and organizations covered by HIPAA and helps highlight the importance of safeguards to protect the privacy and security of sensitive health care information.

The HBRT may be found at:  https://ocrportal.hhs.gov/ocr/breach/breach_report.jsf.  For additional information on HIPAA breach notification, visit:  https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/breach-notification

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NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Labor Secretary Aims at Professional Licensing Deregulation

Speaking in Denver about apprenticeships, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta pointed to licensing requirements as a barrier to employment that need to be streamlined. He noted that only one in 20 professions in the 1950s required licensing, but today it’s one in four.

Appearing at the American Legislative Executive Council’s annual confab, Acosta noted that “the growth of occupational licensing is part of a nationwide trend where we regulate, and regulate, and regulate.”

Acosta and the Department of Labor (DOL) under President Trump are aiming to expand apprenticeships as a gateway to good-paying professions.

Acosta added that “excess licensing hinders the American workforce” by creating barriers for workers who have less money; who want to move to another state; or who want “to leverage technology and to expand their job opportunities,” according to Politico.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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DOL to Seek Public Input on Creating a New Overtime Rule

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced it will publish a Request for Information (RFI) for the overtime rule on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. The RFI is an opportunity for the public to provide information that will aid the department in formulating a proposal to revise these regulations that define and delimit exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements for certain employees.

The RFI solicits feedback on questions related to the salary level test, the duties test, varying cost-of-living across different parts of the U.S., inclusion of non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments to satisfy a portion of the salary level, the salary test for highly compensated employees, and automatic updating of the salary level tests.

The RFI will be published in the Federal Register with a 60-day public comment period. Instructions on submitting public comments are in the RFI. Comments may also be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov.

Click here for a preview copy of the RFI.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Labor Secretary Forming an Apprenticeship Task Force

Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is inviting interested persons to submit nominations for individuals to serve on the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. The creation of the task force is a key step in implementing President Donald J. Trump’s executive order to expand apprenticeships, according to a Department of Labor (DOL) news release.

“Apprenticeships are a cornerstone of President Trump’s plan to close the skills gap and ensure the American workforce is prepared to succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Secretary  Acosta. “The Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion’s recommendations will serve as vital guidance for the U.S. Department of Labor as we work with industry groups, companies, unions, non-profits and educational institutions to expand apprenticeship programs across the U.S.”

The task force, which will be chaired by Secretary Acosta, has been asked to identify strategies and proposals to promote apprenticeships, especially in sectors where apprenticeship programs are currently insufficient. The task force’s final report to the President will offer recommendations on federal initiatives to promote apprenticeships, administrative and legislative reforms that would facilitate the formation and success of apprenticeship programs, the most effective strategies for creating industry-recognized apprenticeships, and the most effective strategies for amplifying and encouraging private-sector initiatives to promote apprenticeships.

The Department of Labor and the White House Office of American Innovation are committed to increasing the number of quality apprenticeships, including expansion into high-growth, emerging sectors where apprenticeships have historically been rare.

Visit https://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship/task-force.htm to learn more on how to apply.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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CMS Seeks More Control Over Medicare Advantage Plans

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking public comment before it submits a proposal for more review power over Medicare Advantage plans in order “to provide adequate access to covered services to meet the needs of the population served.”

The CMS says it will submit the broader review plan to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Aug. 18 for approval.

Currently, the CMS only reviews Medicare Advantage plan networks when there is a triggering event, such as a complaint filed or a new plan’s being launched. In January, the CMS said 45 percent of Medicare Advantage network lists contained incorrect information, including which providers were taking new patients, wrong phone numbers and wrong addresses.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Senate Republicans’ Repeal-Only Effort Collapses on the Heels of ‘Repeal and Replace’

Less than a day after more Republican defections doomed the Senate’s “repeal and replace” health care legislation, the option of “repeal now and replace later” went down in flames as well. Three GOP Senators immediately said they couldn’t vote for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) without a replacement.

Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Shelley Moore Capito, (W.V.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) all said they would not support a repeal-only bill.

The defection of the three means the Republicans can’t even bring the repeal measure to a vote. With a slim 52-seat majority in the Senate, the Republicans can lose only two votes and still have a chance of passing legislation without any Democrat votes (50 yeas plus a deciding vote by the president of the Senate, Mike Pence, who is also vice president of the United States).

“I believe we must continue to push forward now,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) told colleagues. “I regret that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failures of Obamacare will not be successful. That doesn’t mean we should give up.”

Hearing the news, President Trump told reporters that “we’ll just let Obamacare fail.”

 


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Senate Republicans Give Up on ‘Repeal and Replace’

With the defection of two more Senate Republicans from the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 has been withdrawn from a vote.

On Monday, Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) issued statements declaring they would not vote for the revamped measure. They thus joined Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Susan Collins (Maine) in opposing the measure, leaving the Republicans at least two votes short of possible passage.

“Republicans should just REPEAL failing Obamacare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” President Trump wrote on Twitter.

“This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) said. “Rather than repeating the same failed, partisan process yet again, Republicans should start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets and improves our health care system.”

The 52-seat Republican majority now says it will work on simple repeal over a two-year period.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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OSHA to Launch Electronic Injury and Illness Reporting Tool Aug. 1

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Aug. 1 will launch its new Injury Tracking Application (ITA). The Web-based form allows employers to electronically submit required injury and illness data from their completed 2016 OSHA Form 300A. The application will be accessible from the ITA webpage.

Last month, OSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking to extend the deadline for submitting 2016 Form 300A to Dec. 1, 2017, to allow affected entities sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the electronic reporting system, and to provide the new administration an opportunity to review the new electronic reporting requirements prior to their implementation.

The data submission process involves four steps: (1) creating an establishment; (2) adding 300A summary data; (3) submitting data to OSHA; and (4) reviewing the confirmation email. The secure website offers three options for data submission. One option will enable users to manually enter data into a web form. Another option will give users the ability to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. A third option will allow users of automated recordkeeping systems to transmit data electronically via an application programming interface.

The ITA webpage also includes information on reporting requirements, a list of frequently asked questions and a link to request assistance with completing the form.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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OSHA Announces Training Grants to Prevent Workplace Hazards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced the availability of $10.5 million in Susan Harwood Training Grants to fund training and education for workers and employers to help them identify and prevent workplace safety and health hazards.

The grants are available for nonprofit organizations including community and faith-based organizations, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, Indian tribes, and colleges and universities. Recipients will create in-person, hands-on training and educational programs and develop materials for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness and fatality rates; and vulnerable workers who are underserved, have limited English proficiency or are temporary workers.

Targeted Topic Training grants are available to support the development of quality training programs and educational materials that focus on identifying and preventing workplace hazards. This funding opportunity announcement also makes available funds for Training and Educational Materials Development grants that focus on developing quality training materials.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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