Preparing for an OSHA Inspection 101

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When it comes to OSHA inspections, preparation is critical. Figuring out what to do (and who should do it) only after an inspector arrives on site puts employers at an immediate—and often irreversible—disadvantage. Consider implementing these OSHA inspection best practices now, before a proverbial “knock on the door.” Fourth Amendment Rights Employers—just like people on the street and in their homes—are entitled to Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. An OSHA inspector therefore needs one of two things to proceed with an inspection: a warrant or your consent. Since an inspector will usually arrive without a warrant, the inspector will need your consent. This provides an opportunity (prior to consenting) to negotiate a reasonable scope and protocol for the inspection. Some issues to discuss (and confirm) with the ...
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OSHA Interviews: Understanding and Exercising Your Rights

453643327 Section 8(a) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 authorizes OSHA to inspect workplaces “during regular working hours and at other reasonable times, and within reasonable limits and in a reasonable manner.” While employers have some level of protection since the mandate specifically states the word “reasonable,” more specific rights exist—and should be exercised—at all stages of an OSHA inspection, including before, during, and after the interview process. Basic Interview Rights During an OSHA inspection, one or more of your employees is likely to be interviewed by a Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO). Although employees have the right to refuse any interview request, this is likely to represent only a fleeting avoidance of the interview process since OSHA is authorized to issue subpoenas to compel testimony. When ...
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Congress Overturns OSHA Recordkeeping Rule

178709266 On March 1, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution of disapproval, under the Congressional Review Act, to block OSHA’s “Volks” rule. On March 22, 2017, the Senate followed suit and voted to overturn the rule. Now, the resolution will be forwarded to President Trump to sign, which is expected to occur. The Volks rule—formally the “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness” rule—was issued on December 19, 2016, during the final days of the Obama Administration. OSHA claims the rule was created to clarify that an employer’s duty to make and maintain accurate injury and illness records (OSHA 300 logs) is an ongoing obligation, and that OSHA has five-and-a-half years to cite an employer for failing ...
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OSHA Will Partner with Labor Organizations, Trade Associations, and Individual Employers to Train and Protect Workers

Businessman presenting work safety concept, hazards, protections, health and regulations OSHA’s Strategic Partnership Program (OSPP) for Worker Safety and Health is a federal initiative that seeks to reduce occupational fatalities, injuries, and illnesses as well as improve worker protections by engaging labor organizations, employer groups, individual employers and others in formal, cooperative relationships with OSHA to carry out the purposes of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The OSPP was first created in 1998 and it seeks to have a measurable, positive impact on the workplace by helping participants establish effective safety and health management systems, train managers and workers on the hazards common to their industry, recognize actual hazards at their work sites and eliminate or control these hazards. The OSPP will also create ways to share expertise and other resources among participating partners and establish goals and measures ...
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US Department of Labor Delays Beryllium Rule For the Second Time

On January 9, 2017, OSHA published a rule entitled “Occupational Exposure to Beryllium.” The new rule amends OSHA’s existing standards for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds. Beryllium and beryllium compounds are important materials used in various industries, but they are highly toxic, and if inhaled, can increase the risk of developing chronic beryllium disease or lung cancer. The rule change was the result of OSHA’s determination that employees exposed to beryllium at the previously permissible exposure limits faced a significant risk of material impairment to their health. The new rule establishes permissible exposure limits of 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air (0.2 μg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average and 2.0 μg/m3 as a short-term exposure limit determined over a sampling period of 15 minutes. It ...
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Does Settling an OSHA Citation Make Good Business Sense?

Businessmen making handshake while passing money - dealing & bribery concepts Shortly after issuing a citation to an employer, OSHA will often agree to reduce the penalty amount provided the employer agrees not to contest it. But could settling invite further trouble? For a number of reasons, contractors should give considerable thought before entering into an early settlement with OSHA. You Need to Move Quickly Upon receipt of a citation, you have three basic options: accept the citation as-issued (this is almost never the best option); request an informal conference and attempt to settle or convince OSHA to withdraw the citation; or contest one or more parts of the citation. Never ignore a citation—otherwise critical rights may be lost. Once you have the citation, you have only 15 business days to appear at an informal conference and contest it. Potential “Cost” ...
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Establish a Strong OSHA Defense Before an Inspector Shows Up

iStock_000060649530_Medium In most instances, an OSHA inspector will arrive at your door unannounced. Among other things, the inspector will present his or her credentials, say why he or she is there, and then ask for your consent to conduct an inspection. The actual inspection and a closing conference will follow, along with the issuance of any citations within six months of any violations. UNPREVENTABLE EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT DEFENSE Although many procedural and legal defenses may exist to an OSHA citation, one of the most popular and effective defenses is the unpreventable employee misconduct defense. Critically, however, its success hinges on what you do well before, not after, OSHA shows up. In order to establish this defense, an employer must show that it has: established work rules designed to prevent the violation; adequately ...
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Return of the MAC: OSHA Aye-Aye’s Maritime Charter

iStock_000034400874_Large On January 19, 2017, OSHA’s Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor renewed a charter first promulgated more than 20 years ago by OSHA’s Maritime Advisory Committee — the oft-referred “MAC.” In so doing, OSHA celebrated a “return of the MAC,” so to speak, by recognizing MAC as a mainstay in U.S. maritime bureaucracy. It remains unclear if OSHA intended its arguably less sexy adaptation as a tacit homage to the timeless 1996 Billboard hit, “Return of the Mack”*; crystal clear, however, is OSHA’s re-commitment to MACOSH doctrine. Together, MAC and OSHA will remain responsible for reckoning discourse and touting expert counsel on maritime-related occupational concerns. Such concerns include those voiced by anyone from the able-bodied seaman to the corporate official (who may also happen to be able-bodied), and permeate all maritime sectors from shipbuilding, ship breaking, ship ...
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OSHA Mandates That Certain Employers Report Accidents Electronically

Human hands holding a tablet and using or online social network at home office. Business man use contact information from tablet. Effective January 1, 2017, OSHA requires that establishments with 20 to 249 employees in certain high-risk industries, including construction, manufacturing and building material and supplies dealers, submit their injury and illness summary (Form 300A) data to it electronically. Their 2016 Form 300A must be submitted by July 1, 2017 and their 2017 Form 300A must be submitted by July 1, 2018. Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the record keeping regulation also must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300 and 301) by July 1, 2018. OSHA will provide a “secure” website that offers three options for data submission. First, users will be able to manually enter ...
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Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection: A Final Update

A sign warning people about trip hazards On November 17, 2016, OSHA issued a final rule updating Walking-Working Surfaces standards and establishing Personal Fall Protection Systems requirements in the general industry category. OSHA uses the term “general industry” to refer to all industries not included in agriculture, construction, or maritime. The rule applies to general Walking-Working Surfaces standards dealing with slip, trip, and fall hazards, and also included a new section addressing Personal Fall Protection Systems standards that requires employers to follow specific requirements for using fall protection. Because falls from heights and on work surfaces are among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries, OSHA issued this update to better protect general industry workers from these hazards. The rule becomes effective on January 17, 2017, and will affect approximately 112 million workers at seven million worksites. ...
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