OSHA Teams Up with Department of Justice to Utilize Criminal Prosecution to Protect Worker Safety

The United State Department of Justice and the United States Department of Labor have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to provide for the coordination of matters pertaining to worker safety that could lead to criminal prosecution by the Department of Justice. Under the Memorandum, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will work with OSHA, Mine Safety (MSHA), and Wage and Hour Division to investigate and prosecute worker endangerment violations. Over a year ago, the Departments of Justice and Labor began meeting to explore a joint effort to increase the frequency and effectiveness of criminal prosecutions of worker endangerment violations. This resulted in a decision to consolidate the authorities to pursue worker safety statutes within the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resource Division’s Environmental Crimes Section. In a letter sent on December ...
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OSHA Upping the Ante

Employers, get ready. Recent developments show that OSHA will step up its campaign of workplace investigations with measures that pursue an even greater degree of influence on you. In my recent article, “OSHA Ups the Ante in U.S. Workplaces,” I examined the impact on employers of the likely astronomical leap in monetary penalties coming soon to recipients of OSHA violations, the “name and shame” approach taken by the agency against violators, and a new enforcement weighting system — along with practical steps employers in all industries can implement to help avoid or reduce the risk of a citation.
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OSHA Brings Sharper Focus to Battling Occupational Lung Disease

iStock_000074418121_Medium Construction workers, coal miners, foundry workers, and stone cutters inhale tiny bits of dust on a daily basis. The dust penetrates their lungs and over time their lungs scar over. This results in a broad range of health issues, including silicosis, pneumoconiosis (black lung), chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer. It may be decades before the effects of the dust inhalation are felt, but the U.S. Department of Labor is working to change that. The U.S. Department of Labor is making progress toward reducing and preventing the occupational risks of cancer and other lung ailments. OSHA has proposed rules to better protect workers from the hazards of silica and beryllium. The silica proposal involves reducing the amount of dust in the air by wetting it down or vacuuming it up. ...
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OSHA Provides Retailers With Crowd Management Safety Guidelines During Holiday Season

Tourists shopping at Duty Free Shop at Doha International Airport The Holiday Season is definitely upon us. Thanksgiving is only hours away. And while many of us make our last minute preparations for that big turkey dinner and the inevitable tryptophan-induced nap in front of the television, retailers are preparing themselves for one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Black Friday, almost a national holiday unto itself, draws some of the biggest shopping crowds of the year. Many retailers open their doors as early as Thanksgiving night and can still count on a maximum capacity crowd. With great sales, however, comes great responsibility, and OSHA wants to remind retailers about its duty to keep workers safe. ​In furtherance of this, OSHA has released a set of guidelines to help retailers control crowds and avoid injuries. These guidelines address not ...
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Whistle While You Work: OSHA Draft Policy Seeks to Prevent Retaliation for Employees Reporting Safety Concerns

On November 6, 2015, OSHA issued a draft policy entitled “Protecting Whistleblowers: Recommended Practices for Employers for Preventing and Addressing Retaliation,” for which it informally seeks public comment through January 19, 2016. The draft policy seeks to facilitate an environment in which employees can freely raise OSHA concerns without the fear of employer retaliation. This whistleblower protection policy specifically focuses on improving safety incentive programs that employers could use in a retaliatory manner against workers who raise such concerns. In its endeavor to create a culture free from retaliation, OSHA drafted a paragraph with recommended steps for employers, including “[e]liminating all formal and informal workplace incentives that encourage or allow retaliation or discourage reporting. Examples of problematic incentives include rewarding employee work units with prizes for low injury rates or ...
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OSHA Issues Updated Version of Its Field Operations Manual

iStock_000063899617_Medium Last month, OSHA issued the latest update to its Field Operations Manual (FOM), the most recent update since a prior update in 2009. Significantly, OSHA’s FOM serves as a reference document for OSHA field personnel, providing enforcement policies and procedures relating to OSHA investigations and enforcement proceedings. This nearly 300-page manual contains 16 chapters addressing all aspects of the inspection and enforcement process, including, for example, chapters on “inspection procedures,” “violations,” “penalties and debt collection,” and “post-citation procedures and abatement verification.” In basic terms, the FOM shows much of what OSHA does, how it does it, and the respective rights of employers and OSHA. It serves as an instructional tool for both OSHA inspectors and employers alike. A complete copy of the 2015 updated Field Operations Manual can be found here. ...
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OSHA Launches Regional Emphasis Program in Southern States Aimed at Protecting Poultry Workers

iStock_000075982109_Full In view of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries and six times more likely to get sick on the job than other private sector workers, OSHA launched a new Regional Emphasis Program last week to reduce musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomic stressors affecting industry workers. The targeted states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas – states that include some of the country’s largest poultry producers. OSHA’s emphasis program will include an initial three-month period focusing on education and outreach activities to share safety and health information with employers, associations, and workers. Musculoskeletal disorders are a particular concern – for example, in 2013, the incidence rate of carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS) was more than seven times the national ...
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OSHA Releases Updated Training Handbook For Employers

HiRes Since its inception, OSHA’s mission has been to protect workers and prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. OSHA’s standards not only regulate workplace conditions, but also dictate the necessary training requirements employers must provide their employees.  These training requirements further OSHA’s philosophy that in order for employees to stay safe, they must have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their work. Employers are therefore charged with providing essential training as part of their safety programs. In furtherance of assisting employers with this task, OSHA has recently released an updated booklet that contains the collected training requirements found within OSHA’s standards. The requirements are organized into five categories of industry standards: General Industry, Maritime, Construction, Agriculture, and Federal Employee Programs. Each category contains the training requirements excerpted  from OSHA regulations ...
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School’s Open – Work Carefully

iStock_000060649530_Medium It’s that time of year again. Much to the dismay of kids (and relief of parents) everywhere, school is back in session. The familiar sign “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” can now be seen on cars and buses all over the road. With the focus on the new school year, OSHA wants to help ensure that students with after-school and weekend jobs also “work carefully.” OSHA has therefore launched a new initiative which focuses on protecting young workers across the country – and is providing resources for young workers, their parents, employers, and educators. In addition to a general overview of pertinent child labor laws and general regulations, OSHA’s Young Workers website addresses those hazards routinely present in industries that commonly employ young workers. Among other things, workers can explore ...
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We Need Your Vote!

Hand of businessman vote ballot with box. Vector illustration. Attention blog readers! We are proud to announce that OSHA: Legal Developments and Defense Strategies has been nominated in The Expert Institute’s “2015 Best Legal Blog Contest.” Over the past month, this contest received more than 2,000 nominations and has now narrowed the field to just 250 of the “most exciting, entertaining, and informative legal blogs online today.” This blog is among the 250 finalists and is listed in the “Labor and Employment” category. To vote, visit The Expert Institute’s contest page here  and click “vote” for OSHA: Legal Developments and Defense Strategies. The polls are open until October 9. You may vote on your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Once again, we truly are grateful for all of the support from our readers. No matter what happens with this ...
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