Author Archives: William H. Baaki

Stepped-Up DOJ Enforcement Signals Intent to Increase Criminal Prosecution of Workplace Safety Violations

Companies who have in the past considered OSHA penalties as a mere cost of doing business and not a significant deterrent should rethink their position and revamp their compliance programs based on recent steps taken by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which heighten the risk of non-compliance. The potential for criminal enforcement of workplace safety violations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act has, in the past, not carried much of a deterrent effect because OSHA violations are classified as misdemeanors and were not frequently…

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OSHA Releases Hospital Respiratory Protection Program Toolkit

Most people associate the name OSHA with safety standards for the protection of workers in construction and manufacturing settings. OSHA, however, is not so limited, as demonstrated by its recently released Hospital Respiratory Protection Program Toolkit, which is designed to help hospitals and other health care employers protect their staff from respiratory hazards. The toolkit was a joint effort of OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. It is an outgrowth of a California-specific guide issued in May 2012. The toolkit…

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U.S. Department of Labor Files OSHA Whistleblower Suit in New York Federal Court

OSHA is responsible for enforcing the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and twenty-one other statutes which are designed to protect employees who report violations of various laws in a broad variety of areas. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the U.S. Department of Labor is authorized to file suit against employers who retaliate against whistleblower employees. The U.S. Department of Labor has recently commenced such a whistleblower action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New…

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OSHA Fines Contractor $511,000 for Failing to Provide Fall Protection Resulting in Worker Fatality

On July 25, 2014, a 22-year-old apprentice ironworker in Kansas City, Missouri was standing on a 9-inch-wide steel girder on a building under construction and fell more than 30 feet to his death. In its citation dated January 21, 2015, OSHA cited the employer structural steel company for seven willful and three serious safety violations, placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, and issued proposed penalties against the company totaling $511,000. OSHA’s investigation found that the deceased worker’s employer violated its own safety…

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