Establish a Strong OSHA Defense Before an Inspector Shows Up

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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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OSHA Updates Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs

iStock_000053899524_Large OSHA first released its “Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs” 30 years ago. Since then, the workplace has changed so much that it can, in some ways, appear unrecognizable from days gone by. OSHA has therefore recently updated its guidelines to address both these changes and the accompanying safety and health issues that are now part of the modern workplace. While OSHA’s changes to its guidelines will no doubt help increase safety at the workplace, perhaps the most significant changes were to its online resources. This updated resource center provides step-by-step employer action lists to enable effective implementation of safety programs. It also has a section for employees to facilitate active participation in the programs. Additional resources are available to both promote in-house education and training and evaluate existing safety ...
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OSHA Delays Enforcement of Anti-Retaliation Provision Until December 1

495672652 OSHA has decided once again to postpone enforcement of the anti-retaliation provision contained in its new injury and illness tracking rule until December 1 in order to allow a federal court time to review a motion challenging the provision. OSHA initially intended to implement the provision on August 10, 2016. At that time, the roll-out was delayed to allow time for outreach to the community the rule affects. The final rule advocates an employee’s right to freely report injuries and illnesses without fear of employer retaliation. In theory, the more accurate reporting will enable researchers to more closely study injury causation in the workplace. The reporting rule specifically amends the anti-retaliation provision to allow OSHA to take action regardless of whether an employee filed a complaint with OSHA, whereas the ...
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Noise Complaints Don’t Fall on Deaf Ears: OSHA Sets Out to End Workplace Noise Exposure and Related Hearing Loss

511669844 Recently, OSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health teamed up to compel inventors to develop a solution to workplace noise exposure and corollary hearing loss.  The trifecta endeavors to ameliorate the risk of hearing loss that 22 million workers face every year from workplace noise hazards. Employers are required to implement an effective hearing conservation program whenever worker noise exposure is equal to or greater than 85 dBA for an eight-hour exposure, or 90 dBA in the construction industry.  Noise controls are the first line of defense to preempt noise exposure and typically take one of three forms: (1) engineering controls; (2) administrative controls, and 3) hearing protection devices (HPDs).  Engineering controls involve modifying equipment or making changes to the noise ...
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Temporary Workers: Staffing Agencies Jointly Liable for OSHA Violations

77931833 Concerns employers may use temporary workers as a means to fill hazardous jobs and skirt compliance with OSHA regulations, has led to OSHA holding staffing agencies jointly responsible for safety violations when temporary workers are exposed to unsafe conditions. While the extent of staffing agency responsibilities are fact-specific—based upon the applicable regulations for the particular job and activity—what OSHA has made clear is that staffing agencies and employers are jointly responsible for ensuring OSHA compliance and that temporary workers have a safe place to work. OSHA has set up a section of their website specifically dealing with the protection of temporary workers. OSHA warns that all temporary staffing agencies and host employers should lay out each of their responsibilities clearly in their contacts with one another to ensure OSHA compliance. ...
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OSHA Penalty Increases About to Take Effect

Money in the hands of the people Near the end of 2015, the Department of Labor announced that OSHA would be making  numerous changes to its enforcement and policies for the year 2016 and beyond. Included amongst these changes is a dramatic increase in its monetary penalties for violations. OSHA’s penalties had previously remained unchanged since 1990. Pursuant to the federal budget signed into law on November 2, 2015, however, OSHA was authorized to increase its penalties by 78 percent. Additionally, OSHA will now continue to adjust its penalties for inflation on a yearly basis based upon the Consumer Price Index. These penalty increases are slated to take effect starting on August 1, 2016. After this date, any citations issued by OSHA will be governed by the new penalty structure, so long as the violation occurred after November 2, ...
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OSHA Enforcement Heats Up

iStock_000060649530_Medium OSHA officials have been busy as the weather heats up and spring turned to summer. On May 20, 2016, OSHA cited BC Stucco and Stone, a construction company in Darby, Pennsylvania, for one serious violation and three willful violations. The investigation dated back to November 25, 2015 when an OSHA compliance officer observed an employee working eighteen feet above ground on a scaffold without fall protection. The proposed penalties are $93,000. BS Stucco had also been previously cited on May 2, 2016 at their Philadelphia location. On May 31, 2016, OSHA issued citations to Evergreen Nursery in Statham, Georgia for eighteen serious safety violations. OSHA stated Evergreen exposed workers to electrical hazards, did not provide proper protective equipment, did not have a hazards communication program, and exposed workers to unguarded ...
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