Author Archives: Michael Rubin

Credibility of Injured Employee Key Consideration in Vacating Citation

A recent decision from the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission shows the importance credibility of witnesses can play in any contested action. In this recent matter, the Administrative Law Judge (the court) vacated a citation against a telecommunications and electrical utilities company (the company) in view of – in large part – the “untruthful demeanor” of the injured employee and the fact that the employee appeared to have “an ax to grind” with his employer. By way of background, the injured employee filed a…

Continue Reading....

Contesting an OSHA Citation – Some Basics

An OSHA citation usually comes at the worst time. Actually, is there ever a good time? Probably not. But, what if after receiving a citation you realize you do not agree with it? Or, perhaps, you cannot deny that the violative conduct occurred, but you believe certain mitigating factors should be taken into account that might warrant dismissal of the citation or a reduction of the penalty. If these thoughts are coming to mind, you may have a basis to challenge the citation. In order…

Continue Reading....

OSHA Citations on Fall Prevention and Exposure to Excessive Heat Affirmed on Appeal

Two recent court cases upheld citations that were issued for violations of OSHA’s fall protection standard and a willful citation for exposing workers to excessive heat. In September of 2011, OSHA inspectors in Cleveland, Ohio observed a worker performing roof repairs on a church’s steep-pitched roof without any fall protection. An inspection, in turn, resulted in the issuance of “serious” and “repeat” citations to the roofing company for violating OSHA’s fall prevention regulations. In an appeal to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (“OSHRC”),…

Continue Reading....

Comment Period Extended on Proposed Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

OSHA has announced that it will extend the comment period on the proposed rule to improve the tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses to Oct. 14, 2014. The proposal, published on Nov. 8, 2013, would amend OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information that employers are already required to keep. OSHA is soliciting comments on whether to amend the proposed rule to: 1) require that employers inform their employees of their right to report injuries and…

Continue Reading....

Brooklyn Medical Facility Cited by OSHA for Inadequate Workplace Violence Safeguards

Employees of a Brooklyn medical facility were allegedly exposed to head, eye, face and groin injuries and intimidation and threats during routine interactions with patients and visitors. An inspection by OSHA reportedly found approximately 40 incidents of workplace violence between February 7 and April 12, 2014. These incidents involved employees who were threatened or physically and verbally assaulted by patients and visitors, or when breaking up altercations between patients. The most serious incident was an assault of a nurse, who sustained severe brain injuries when…

Continue Reading....

OSHA to Refer Time-Barred Whistleblower Claims to the NLRB

On May 21st, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that OSHA will begin referring time-barred whistleblower claims (brought pursuant to Section 11(c) of the OSH Act) to the NLRB, which has a longer limitations period, for investigation and potential prosecution. In order to facilitate this collaborative program, OSHA agents have been provided with talking points briefly describing the NLRB and providing other information to use when referring untimely Section 11(c) complainants. The statute of limitations for a whistleblower claim brought pursuant to Section…

Continue Reading....

This Week’s Top OSHA Related News

Continue Reading....

23 Citations to Florida Manufacturer Underscore the Importance of Compliance with Respiratory and Toxic and Hazardous Substances Standards

OSHA recently cited a Florida manufacturer for 23 safety and health violations with proposed penalties totaling $106,000 for exposing workers to dangerous welding fumes and other hazards. Of the 23 alleged violations, 19 were classified as “serious violations,” that is, a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result. The inspection — conducted as part of OSHA’s national emphasis program on amputations — resulted in violations in two main categories: respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134) and toxic and hazardous substances –…

Continue Reading....

OSHA’s Burden of Proof and Contesting the “Knowledge” Element

In order to establish a violation in any case, OSHA must prove the following four elements: (1) the cited standard applies; (2) the employer failed to comply with the standard; (3) employees had access to the violative condition; and (4) the employer knew, or with the exercise of reasonable diligence, could have known of the violative condition. A recent decision from the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) (March 7, 2014, Docket No. 12-2152), provides an opportunity to discuss the fourth element, the “knowledge”…

Continue Reading....

The Informal Conference: To Settle or Not To Settle

An important right upon receipt of an OSHA citation is to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director. Notably, an informal conference must be held within 15 working days of your receipt of the citation. (This is the same deadline as for contesting the citation. It is also important to keep in mind that requesting and/or appearing at an informal conference will not extend the time you have to contest the citation.) Informal conferences are popular and may be extremely useful because they…

Continue Reading....