GB's Weekly Governmental Briefing
Through our Governmental Affairs practice, GB is helping to shape the laws and regulations that will define the times ahead. Acting on behalf of the best interests of our clients and our industry.
Each week, we bring it all into focus.
OSHA Delays Anti-Retaliation RulesJul. 19, 2016
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will delay the launch date for its enforcement of new anti-retaliation provisions in the recently updated injury and illness electronic tracking rule. OSHA now targets a Nov. 1 release instead of Aug. 10. The Health and Safety Administration will use the additional period to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers.
LITIGATION AROUND THE RULE
Last week, several employer organizations commenced a lawsuit challenging certain provisions of the final electronic reporting rule. The suit aimed at the sections of the anti-retaliation rule that would require employers to inform workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation, implement procedures for reporting injuries and illnesses that do not deter workers from reporting, and prohibit retaliation against workers for reporting injuries and illnesses. OSHA's postponement followed the suit.
Business groups contend that anti-retaliation provisions will limit post-accident drug testing and safety programs that contribute to construction jobsite safety. We're tracking the Rule's re-entry and we will alert you once OSHA deploys the educational materials and guidance.
The California Legislature and the state courts are eyeing gender equality in the Golden State's workers' compensation system. When the California Legislature returns to Sacramento on August 1, the State Senate Appropriations Committee will address A.B. 1643, a measure which would prohibit apportioning a permanent disability to conditions including pregnancy, menopause, osteoporosis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. The bill would also require that the impairment rating for breast cancer be the same as the rating for prostate cancer.
At the same time, a potentially sweeping class action lawsuit was filed in California alleging that injured female workers in the state are denied equal disability benefits because of systemic gender bias. The case was brought against California state agencies that oversee the dispensing of workers' compensation benefits on behalf of several women injured on their jobs, and the Service Employees International Union in California. Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations, applauds the integrity of the state's record of fair treatment and vows to vigorously defend the workers' compensation system. We're watching both developments.
Making Our Way Around the Country
UNITED STATES SENATE
The Senate approved a bill this week to tackle the nation's opioid crisis. The measure, which passed 92 to 2, would strengthen prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts by empowering medical professionals and law enforcement officials with more tools to help drug addicts. President Obama is expected to promptly sign the bill, which will then set the stage for a debate in Congress on the ways and means to fund the provisions of this bipartisan legislation.
The Oregon Workers' Compensation Board (Board) will meet on August 2, 2016, to review the adequacy of applicant attorney fees in this Pacific Northwest state. The Board review follows the 2015 passage of H.B. 2764, a measure designed to augment applicant attorney's fees for the first time since the late 1990s. The Board is expected to evaluate an advisory committee report, which calls for the Board to eliminate caps on attorney fees in some cases and raise them in others, as part of ongoing efforts to ensure lawyers are compensated fairly for representing injured workers.
FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two draft guidance documents describing how the FDA would implement provisions of federal law that restrict compounding drug products that are essentially copies of commercially available or approved drug products. The draft guidance documents apply to pharmacies, physicians, federal facilities, and outsourcing facilities. The FDA maintains that compounded drug products pose a higher risk to patients than approved drug products, because the FDA does not evaluate them for safety, effectiveness, and quality before being used. In addition, some compounders are not required to comply with current good manufacturing practice requirements. The FDA will keep the comment period for this guidance open for 90 days.
Two score and seven years ago, American astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped off the lunar landing module Eagle, becoming the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. On National Moon Day, we turn our gaze skyward and pause to recognize the ways the space program has afforded the risk and insurance industry from satellite modeling to interstellar cloud computing. Godspeed.