December 7, 2023

Washington Wire: Reminder: OSHA Forms 300A for Calendar Year 2022 Due March 2



Reminder: OSHA Forms 300A for Calendar Year 2022 Due March 2
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has begun accepting 2020 Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses). All establishments with 250 or more employees are required to electronically submit injury and illness data, while manufacturers are one of the numerous specific industries in which all establishments with 20 or more employees must submit injury and illness summary (Form 300A) data to OSHA. Businesses have until March 2, 2023, to electronically submit their Form 300As for Calendar Year 2020. Click here to access OSHA’s injury reporting portal.



EPA Staff Revising Ozone NAAQS Assessment
Staff at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are rewriting a draft policy assessment regarding the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone (O3), last set in 2015, and opening up the possibility that EPA might opt to tighten the standard. 
In an initial draft policy assessment, written last year, EPA staff recommended retaining the O3 NAAQS, finding that it is appropriate to retain the "primary" standard of 70 parts per billion (ppb) and the "secondary" standard, set at the same level.
A panel of the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) reviewed the initial staff policy assessment and provided their recommendations as part of drafting a proposed and final NAAQS rule. Agency staff are rewriting the draft policy assessment following concerns raised by the CASAC panel regarding the science underlying the initial policy assessment.
Environmental and public health groups have long pushed for tougher ozone NAAQS, as low as 60 ppb. It is unclear what standards the CASAC might recommend, the Trump-era CASAC supported retaining the 70 ppb limits, but before that, the committee twice backed a primary limit in the range of 60-70 ppb. EPA is hoping to issue a proposed rule on the O3 NAAQS sometime in April. 



U.S. at Fault in USMCA Autos Case
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) dispute settlement panel determined that the United States’ interpretation of the deal's rules of origin for automotive vehicles was inconsistent with the U.S.' obligations under the agreement. 
In the final report, first issued to the U.S., Mexico, and Canada in December and made public on January 11, 2023, the dispute panel found that the deal's rules of origin do not include a "separate, self-standing" origination requirement for certain core auto parts.
In bringing the dispute, both Mexico and Canada believed the trade deal stipulates that more regionally produced parts should count toward duty-free shipping than the U.S. wants to allow. Mexico has said the U.S. has not been recognizing alternate methodologies for calculating regional value content it contends were negotiated under the deal to help automakers meet regional value content requirements, raised from those under the North American Free Trade Agreement. The U.S. however argued that “any interpretation of the automotive rules of origin that effectively reduces the effective regional value content of a vehicle produced in North America runs counter to the goals” of the agreement.
The panel concluded that the U.S. had breached several commitments under the deal, including Article 3 of the Autos Appendix and Article 4.5, which sets out rules for calculating regional value content. In addition, the panel wrote, the U.S. violated Article 8 by conditioning approvals of so-called "alternative staging regimes" on "a requirement apart from those listed in Article 8.2 and in Section 19(4) of the Uniform Regulations, one that falls outside the scope of what was intended by the Agreement." ASRs, upon approval, allow automakers additional time to adjust to new requirements imposed under USMCA.
Those requirements include a higher threshold for regional value content for vehicles. In addition, core parts such as engines and transmissions must meet certain RVC thresholds, either via standard RVC calculations or with one of several flexibilities set out under the deal. The U.S. argued that core parts deemed originating using one of the flexibilities do not necessarily count as 100 percent originating in calculations for a vehicle's overall RVC. But the panel, siding with Mexico and Canada, concluded that if a core part meets its individual threshold for originating content, it can qualify as originating for the overall calculation.



AI Discrimination Highlighted by EEOC in Draft Enforcement Plan
A priority for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the coming years will be to focus on discrimination in hiring due to the use of automated systems, such as artificial intelligence (AI) tools, according to the Commission’s Draft Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for 2023—2027. The SEP, officially published in the Federal Register on January 10, 2023, outlines the priorities for EEOC in tackling workplace discrimination over the next four years. 
According to the EEOC, technology that can result in discrimination may include software that incorporates algorithmic decision-making or machine learning; automated recruitment, selection, or production and performance management tools; and other existing or emerging technological tools used in employment decisions.
EEOC last addressed hiring tools in 1978, when it adopted the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures guidelines, establishing a “four-fifths rule,” which looks at whether a hiring test has a selection rate of less than 80% for protected groups compared to others.
As a part of this new focus, the EEOC will be holding a Commission Hearing on “Navigating Employment Discrimination in AI and Automated Systems: A New Civil Rights Frontier,” on January 31, 2023, at 10:00 am.  For more information and to register to watch the hearing online, visit:
Public comments on the SEP draft must be received by Feb. 9, 2023, after which the EEOC will vote on a final version of the SEP.