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ISSA Advocacy Recap—OSHA Extends Comment Period for Hazard Communication Standard

April 23, 2021 ISSA Advocacy Recap—OSHA Extends Comment Period for Hazard Communication Standard

Welcome to the ISSA Advocacy Recap, our regular roundup of the latest public policy issues impacting the cleaning industry. This week’s recap touches on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) extending the comment period for the agency’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), a bipartisan U.S. Senate proposal to raise the federal minimum wage, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and more.

Comment Period Extended for Hazard Communication Standard
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) extended the comment period for the proposed revisions to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to May 19, 2021. OSHA proposed the revisions to its HCS for the purpose of aligning the standard with Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals Revision 7 and to address issues that manufacturers and employers have encountered since OSHA originally aligned the HCS with the GHS in 2012. Public comments originally were required to be submitted by April 19. OSHA extended the comment period to allow stakeholders further time to review the proposed changes and gather any relevant data.

Romney, Sinema Join Forces to Raise Federal Minimum Wage
U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are working together on a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage after congressional Democrats failed to include a US$15-an-hour hike in their coronavirus relief bill last month. “We’re negotiating a minimum wage proposal which we would ultimately take to our group of 20 and see how they react to it and then go from there,” Romney told reporters this week. According to Fox Business, it is not clear when the wage hike would take effect or what the new pay floor would be. However, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a member of the 20 centrist senators, said he believed the new minimum would be $11 per hour. 

House Passes Paycheck Fairness Act
The Paycheck Fairness Act, which aims to eliminate the gender pay gap and strengthen workplace protections for women, recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a 217-210 vote, CNBC reported. The bill, which was reintroduced by House Democrats in January, has been met with opposition from some business groups who say the legislation could threaten bonuses, prohibit employees from negotiating higher pay, and make it easier for “trial lawyers to file large class-action suits against employers.” Many workplace and gender experts have argued in favor of the bill, emphasizing that it could be a key step to achieving equal pay for women.

Biden’s Nominee to Lead OSHA May Signal Increased Enforcement Scrutiny
U.S. President Joe Biden nominated Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker to lead the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If confirmed, employers should prepare for the potential that California-style enforcement may reach the federal law, according to The National Law Review. President Biden has pledged to make improved working conditions a central tenet of his administration, including support for changes to federal OSHA and the National Labor Relations Act. Parker’s nomination is consistent with the recent trend toward increased enforcement of employers by federal regulators.

U.S. Readies Small-Business Grants as PPP Nears End
The federal government is preparing to open two new industry-specific small-business relief programs, one of them months in the works, as its signature pandemic aid effort, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), nears its end, the New York Times reported. The U.S. Small Business Administration said the agency hopes to start taking applications by the end of this week for a $16 billion grant fund for live-event businesses like theaters and music clubs. The program, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, was supposed to begin nearly two weeks ago, but its application system malfunctioned and collapsed, stymieing thousands of businesses that have been waiting months for the promised aid. The agency also recently posted additional details on its forthcoming Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $28.6 billion support program for bars, restaurants, and food trucks whose sales were devastated by the shutdowns that states imposed in response to the pandemic.

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