The US Department of Labor conducted a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health on November 16, 2021. This included presentations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on their current priorities.
OSHA addressed only passingly the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal’s November 12 stay of OSHA’s November 5 COVID Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) “vaccine-or-test” mandate, stating it was following the court’s prohibition on implementation and enforcement.
Other areas of emphasis include protection of workers from heat hazards; resource enhancement by hiring more staff in compliance and enforcement, and strengthening the whistleblower protection program; improvement of outreach to “underserved worker communities”; and the availability of Susan Harwood grant monies for promoting workplace safety (noting US$21M in funding for 2021).
NIOSH discussed its use of federal pandemic funds to address worker mental and emotional health issues; the pursuit of a “Total Worker Health” initiative to combat substance abuse; its own commitment to heat safety; and the recent enactment of a permissible exposure limit (PEL) for nanosilver particles and a focus more generally on potential nanotechnology hazards.