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Eric Conn Quoted in Article, "Stakeholders Closely Eye OSHA Enforcement Policies, NEPs as Regulatory Push Slows"

Inside OSHA, 1/3/2012

Eric Conn, a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the Washington, DC, office, was quoted in an article titled "Looking Ahead: 2012: Stakeholders Closely Eye OSHA Enforcement Policies, NEPs as Regulatory Push Slows."

Following is an excerpt:

OSHA stakeholders are turning their attention to the agency's reinvigorated enforcement efforts and the increasing profile of its National Emphasis Programs (NEPs) -- especially as they apply to testy issues such as ergonomics -- and other administrative policies within OSHA as the agency enters 2012 with a more tightly constrained regulatory agenda. Sources say OSHA is doing what it can internally to address areas it considers crucial, as the administration and Congress effectively slow new rulemaking efforts on safety and health issues.

"The very few ergonomic enforcement actions I've seen in the last year or two have been general duty clause violations cross-referencing some industry- or OSHA-authored non-mandatory guidance document," said Conn. "So we were beginning with an NEP expressly targeting ergonomic issues, and OSHA having in its back pocket a nursing home ergonomics guidance document, we put two and two together." Conn argued that the guidance was revised in the last two years "and is now going to be a centerpiece of the NEP."

Conn said it appears that the NEP "will almost certainly be extended and they're continuing to find the violations they expected to find" under the targeting criteria. "Based on Dr. Michaels' keen interest in recordkeeping and the reliability of employer recordkeeping data, and the success in OSHA's mind of the NEP so far, I certainly expect the NEP to be continued beyond the expiration in early 2012."