Author Archives: Michael Rubin

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 –…

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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”…

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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…

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OSHA Related News for April

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Exploring the Limits of OSHA’s Inspection Authority: A Precursor to Exercising Your Rights

If an OSHA inspector, known as a compliance safety and health officer (CSHO), arrives at your door, presents his or her credentials, and asks for you to consent to an inspection of your workplace, what do you do? If you consent, what should you expect to happen next? And if you refuse to consent, then what? Obviously it would be wishful thinking to conclude that the CSHO would simply leave, bid you good day and never come back. These rather elementary questions are among the…

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OSHA Announces National Stand-Down for Fall Prevention

OSHA has announced a national safety stand-down from June 2 to June 6, 2014 to raise awareness about the hazards of falls, which account for the highest number of deaths in the construction industry. In order to conduct a safety stand-down, a construction company should stop working at a specific designated time and provide a focused toolbox talk on a safety topic such as ladder safety, fall protection equipment, or scaffolds safety. The purpose of the meeting is to provide information to workers about hazards,…

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Six Practical Tips for Minimizing OSHA Liability

As many employers know, OSHA penalties can be costly. Some employers, however, never even receive an OSHA citation. Why is this? Is it luck? Or is it because the employer implemented well-thought and planned systems and strategies specifically designed to promote the health and safety of its workers? In my recent article in Industry Week, I assert that it is likely the later – and provide six practical tips and strategies that employers in virtually any industry may implement. These strategies include:

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Labor Department Sues Ohio Bell for Suspending Workers Who Reported Workplace Injuries

OSHA has accused the Ohio Bell Telephone Company (“Ohio Bell”), which operates as AT&T, of suspending workers for reporting their various workplace injuries, including in two instances related to ladder accidents. “It is against the law for employers to discipline or suspend employees for reporting injuries,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “AT&T must understand that by discouraging workers from reporting injuries, it increases the likelihood of more workers being injured in the future.” The lawsuit, brought by…

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You’ve Received an OSHA Citation: Step One

If you receive an OSHA citation, one of the things you certainly should not do is put the citation on the corner of your desk and tell yourself that you will take care of it “later.” Essentially, this is the equivalent of doing nothing and contrary to wishful thinking the citation is not going to vanish on its own with the passage of time. Often, after getting consumed by something else, “later” winds up being much later. This is not advisable. It is important to…

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