Since 2021, occupational safety and health agencies have enacted a variety of rules addressing the workplace hazards of the COVID-19 pandemic. Agencies have generally used their emergency authority, which allow more administrative leeway to speed enactment but then require automatic expiration within months (although re-enactments are possible). I’ve written about a number of these efforts, including the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) “emergency temporary standard (ETS),” which was stymied by litigation (see HERE). Some states have enacted their own ETSs; California adopted its own ETS and then readopted it every 180 days in order to keep rules in force (see HERE).Read More
Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog
The many orders and rules issued by public and occupational health agencies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic create massive disruptions to employment relationships at organizations worldwide. The Supreme Court of British Columbia recently considered a wrongful dismissal lawsuit following one employer’s response to BC provincial health orders affecting the place of employment. The court acknowledged the significant disruptions to ongoing activities, but refused to apply the doctrine of “frustration” to relieve he employer of notice and severance duties to its employees. The remainder of this blog discusses this case (Fanzone v 516400 B.C. Ltd., 2022 BCSC 2089 (CanLII)).Read More
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken two actions to expand chemical release reporting under its Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program. EPA administers TRI as one of the distinct programs created by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA, also referred to as SARA Title III). EPA has finalized its previously-proposed addition of 12 chemicals, and separately has proposed to tighten existing requirements for two more. (I’ve discussed TRI several times, including HERE. The rest of this note discusses these changes.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) administers longstanding protections against advertising that uses “false” or “misleading” advertising to induce consumers to buy products that do not perform as advertised, or that produce consequences different from those advertised. FTC’s rules include its “Guides for the use of environmental marketing claims” – generally called “Green Guides” (16 CFR part 260). FTC first issued the Green Guides thirty years ago in 1992 and revised them in 1996, 1998, and 2012. (I most recently discussed the Guides, and the FTC Act of 1914, HERE ). On December 14, 2022, FTC voted to seek public comment on the content and interpretation of meaning of the existing Guides, and the sorts of changes and updates that would enhance their ongoing value to consumers. The remainder of this note summarizes the existing Green Guides, and FTC’s questions for public comment.Read More
On November 22, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the success of its ongoing National Compliance Initiative for “Reducing Significant Non-Compliance (SNC) with NPDES Permits,” addressing high levels of non-compliance with individual permits to discharge water pollutants under the Clean Water Act’s (CWA’s) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination system (NPDES). EPA started the Initiative in fiscal year (FY) 2018, in cooperation with delegated state water quality agencies, after compiling and evaluating permit holders’ data showing significant non-compliance by over 20% of the 46,000 permitted facilities around the country. The Initiative’s goal has been to cut non-compliance in half by the end of FY 2022. EPA’s November 22 report claims that this goal has been exceeded, with significant non-compliance rates down to 9%.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides additional non-regulatory guidance for the evaluation and reduction of workplace hazards that aren’t directly regulated by its standards. For example, OSHA provides a resource webpage on Seasonal Flu, which it recently updated with provide additional guidance and links to other health agencies’ resource pages.
On November 10, the Biden Administration announced a proposal to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to require “major federal suppliers” and “significant federal suppliers” to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and assessments of climate-related risks, and to set targets for GHG emission reductions. The rest of this note summarizes this proposal.Read More
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is best known for its regulatory standards, but also provides additional non-regulatory guidance for the evaluation and reduction of workplace hazards that aren’t directly regulated. As an example, OSHA provides a resource webpage on Workplace Stress, which it has recently emphasized in its outreach efforts.The rest of this note summarizes OSHA’s information.Read More
For over a decade, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has required thousands of facilities and organizations to report annual emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) (40 CFR part 98). The most recent reports were due in April 2022, covering 2021 emissions from more than 8,000 entities (I summarized these requirements HERE https://blog.stpub.com/mandatory-ghg-epa-reports-due-april-1-2022). EPA has now published summary compilations of these data, showing an overall 4% increase in emissions compared with 2020. EPA attributes the increases to economic expansion coming out of the COVID-induced downturn, and reminds readers that reported emissions are generally lower than in those first reported for 2010-2011.Read More
After an employer discharges an employee, the (ex) employee may be able to sue claiming that the discharge was unjustified or“wrongful,” depending on the terms of any applicable employment contract andthe circumstances of the discharge. One complicated set of circumstances involve discharges that are “constructive” rather than explicit/actual. Whereas an employer may commit an actual breach by dismissing an employee without cause and without sufficient advance notice or severance pay, a constructive breach occurs when an employer forces the employee to accept a fundamental (or in some formulations, “substantial”) change in the employment relationship or quit.Read More