Category Archives: Resource

OSHA Updates its Guidelines for Protecting Workers from Workplace Violence

Healthcare and social service workers face significant risks of job-related violence and it is OSHA’s stated mission to help employers address these serious hazards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 23,000 significant injuries due to assault at work occurred in 2013. Notably, more than 70 percent of these assaults were in the healthcare and social service sectors. Workers in these areas are reportedly more than 4 times as likely to be injured due to violence in the workplace than the average private…

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Roofing Contractor’s Failure to Respond to OSHA Citations Could Send Contractor to Jail

In December 2011, a Maine roofing contractor was directed by federal court order to correct violations associated with 11 different OSHA citations and to pay $404,000 in fines and interest that had been imposed previously over the period 2000 to 2011. The 11 citations related to 11 different work sites, and the contractor not only never responded to the initial citations but also never corrected the underlying safety conditions or paid the assessed fines after the citations had turned into final orders. Now, the contractor…

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Updates and Studies: Top OSHA-Related News for the Week

The following are highlights of the OSHA-related news for the week:

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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 To Host Second Annual Fall Safety Stand-Down in May 2015

From May 4-15, 2015, OSHA will be hosting its second annual National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls in construction. According to OSHA, jobsite fatalities caused by falls from elevation accounted for 279 of the 806 construction fatalities recorded in 2012. Additionally, fall prevention safety standard violations were among the top 10 citations issued by OSHA in fiscal year 2014. As part of this years’ initiative, OSHA is inviting companies, contractors, and employers of all sizes to conduct voluntary safety “Stand-Downs” focusing on fall hazards and…

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OSHA Issues Amended Procedures for Handling Retaliation Complaints Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act

On March 5, 2015, OSHA issued amended procedures for the handling of retaliation complaints under Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The amended procedures, now effective, govern employee protection claims. By way of background, on November 3, 2011, an interim final rule (“IFR”) governing these provisions and requesting comment was published in the Federal Register, 76 FR 68084. Pursuant to the IFR, five comments were received. The final rule, 29 C.F.R. Part 1980, “Procedures for Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under Section 806 of…

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OSHA Citations Vacated Due to Consumer Products Exception

In a recent decision, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) vacated two citations against a construction company relating to portable fire extinguishers kept at a jobsite. The first citation was for failing to include the extinguishers in its hazard communication program. The second was for failing to provide material safety data sheets for the chemicals contained in the extinguishers. The fire extinguishers at issue were ABC rated and weighed10 pounds each. Between 8 and 10 extinguishers were kept at the jobsite. It was…

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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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The Right to Delay an OSHA Inspection Until Management Arrives

Chapter 3 of OSHA’s Field Operations Manual (“FOM”) governs OSHA Inspection Procedures, which encompasses many aspects of an inspection including preparation, planning, documentation, and notice. The “conduct of inspection” guideline indicates that the OSHA inspector must locate the owner, operator or agent in charge at the workplace prior to commencing the inspection. In that regard, the FOM provides that “when neither the person in charge nor a management official is present, contact may be made with the employer to request the presence of the owner,…

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OSHA Orders Employer to Reinstate Whistleblower and Pay More Than $166,000 in Damages

On July 30, 2013, a pilot refused to fly a medical transport helicopter over mountainous terrain due to a faulty emergency locator transmitter. The employee was placed on administrative leave the next day and was eventually terminated on August 5, 2013. This termination was reported to OSHA and an investigation followed. OSHA found that the pilot’s employer terminated the employee in retaliation for refusing to fly the helicopter. OSHA not only ordered that the pilot be reinstated, but also levied fines totaling $158,000 in back…

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