Author Archives: Robert W. Berbenich

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…

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Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection: A Final Update

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…

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Temporary Workers: Staffing Agencies Jointly Liable for OSHA Violations

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.…

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OSHA Enforcement Heats Up

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…

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A Whistleblower on OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program

Darrell Whitman is a former attorney and professor who became an Office of Whistleblower Protection Programs (OWPP) investigator in 2010. Whitman was a GS-12 Regional Investigator for OWPP, the U.S. Department of Labor, and OSHA. In 2011, Whitman and several other investigators began challenging abuses of power in OWPP’s Region 9 offices in San Francisco. They began voicing their concerns through internal union grievance procedures, and then began raising concerns to the OWPP Director and then Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. The group accused officials…

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