U.S. Court of Appeals Orders Roofing Contractor to Correct Violations, Implement Safety Measures and Address Approximately $400,000 in Fines

OSHA investigated a Maine roofing contractor multiple time over an eleven year period and issued citations totaling $389,685 in fines for repeatedly exposing its employees to fall hazards. In 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered the contractor to implement a comprehensive safety and training program. It also ordered the owner of the company to produce substantial documentation that will demonstrate the extent to which he is able to pay the fines. Notably, the court indicated that if the owner fails to comply with the order, it would consider additional sanctions up to and including incarceration. The court ordered the owner to ensure that employees and contractors use required  safety equipment and fall protection; conduct worksite safety analyses and meetings; employ a “competent person” to ...
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OSHA and Hazard Assessments: Electrical Hazards in the Workplace

OSHA requires that employers “instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions” and the regulations applicable to the workplace “to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.” This broad directive underscores the necessity of conducting a hazard assessment—determining the hazards present in the work environment. Indeed, one of the “root causes” of workplace incidents is the failure to identify or recognize hazards that are present, or that could have been anticipated. Take, for example, electrical hazards. Many workers are unaware of the potential electrical hazards present in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to the danger of electrocution. Such hazards include contact with power lines, lack of ground-fault protection, improper use of extension and flexible cords, and equipment not being ...
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ASME B30 — Hoisting Your Crane Safety and Compliance Higher

OSHA will be the first to admit that its safety standards set forth “minimum” safety standards. In the most basic of terms, this means that when it comes to safety more can — and often should (or even must) — be done. This begs the question: What “more” can be done? Ask 10 different safety professionals and you may get 10 different answers—all of which could be right. The general consensus, however, is that a comprehensive health and safety system is needed—complete with management commitment, employee participation, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and training — all with a focus on continuous improvement. However, is there something else, perhaps even more basic and immediately accessible, that could help? The answer to this question is “yes.” Take, for example, those working ...
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OSHA Further Delays Deadline Regarding Crane Operator Certification to 2018

On November 9, 2017, OSHA published a Final Rule further extending by one year the employer duty to ensure the competency of crane operators involved in construction work. Previously, this duty was scheduled to terminate on November 10, 2017, but is now extended to November 10, 2018. OSHA is also further extending the deadline for crane operator certification for one year to November 10, 2018. According to the OSHA press release, the extensions are necessary to provide sufficient time for it to complete related rulemaking to address issues with its existing Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard. In addition, OSHA maintains that many crane operators in the construction industry do not have the certification required by the crane standard and are out of compliance with the standard. This is the ...
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Minimizing OSHA Liability : More Than an Ounce of Prevention

OSHA penalties can be costly. In fact, a single “repeat” or “willful” violation can result in a penalty of $126,749. And, if you have multiple violations, that number can increase significantly. This article addresses measures any employer can implement to minimize the risk of costly penalties while—at the same time—promote the most important goal which is to provide a safe work environment for employees. Perform a Self-Assessment The first step is to take an in-depth look at your organization and assess how you are doing in terms of workplace safety. Questions to ask include: What risks are inherent in the tasks your employees are performing? Have you implemented sufficient and effective engineering, administrative, and/or other safety controls? Do you value leading indicators? What do your lagging indicators indicate? Is management truly ...
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OSHA and The Trump Administration: The First 200 Days

Any new presidential administration is likely to bring a new philosophy, vision, and focus to a variety of issues—including workplace safety and health. More than 200 days into the Trump presidency, we take a look below at some of the top developments in OSHA thus far in 2017. OSHA’s Volks Rule Overturned  The Volks rule—formally the “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness”—was issued on December 19, 2016, during the final days of the Obama Administration. OSHA claimed the rule was created to clarify that employers have an ongoing obligation to make and maintain accurate injury and illness records (OSHA 300 logs) and that OSHA had 5.5 years to cite an employer for failing to do so. Opponents of ...
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OSHA’s Multi-Employer Citation Policy and Construction Sites: Who Is An Employer?

Since OSHA’s mission statement is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women,” it’s no surprise that its enforcement authority generally rests with citing employers. The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act requires “each employer” to comply with OSHA standards. Construction is no different—29 CFR 1910.12 obligates each “employer” to protect “employees engaged in construction work” and to comply “with the appropriate standards.” OSHA’s multi-employer citation policy (MECP), however, dictates that up to four separate entities all may be cited—and recognized as an employer—in connection with any one incident. Four Employers for the Price of One On multi-employer worksites, OSHA recognizes four types of employers: creating, controlling, exposing, and correcting. A creating employer causes a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard. An exposing employer is ...
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Preparing for an OSHA Inspection 101

When it comes to OSHA inspections, preparation is critical. Figuring out what to do (and who should do it) only after an inspector arrives on site puts employers at an immediate—and often irreversible—disadvantage. Consider implementing these OSHA inspection best practices now, before a proverbial “knock on the door.” Fourth Amendment Rights Employers—just like people on the street and in their homes—are entitled to Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. An OSHA inspector therefore needs one of two things to proceed with an inspection: a warrant or your consent. Since an inspector will usually arrive without a warrant, the inspector will need your consent. This provides an opportunity (prior to consenting) to negotiate a reasonable scope and protocol for the inspection. Some issues to discuss (and confirm) with the ...
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OSHA Interviews: Understanding and Exercising Your Rights

Section 8(a) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 authorizes OSHA to inspect workplaces “during regular working hours and at other reasonable times, and within reasonable limits and in a reasonable manner.” While employers have some level of protection since the mandate specifically states the word “reasonable,” more specific rights exist—and should be exercised—at all stages of an OSHA inspection, including before, during, and after the interview process. Basic Interview Rights During an OSHA inspection, one or more of your employees is likely to be interviewed by a Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO). Although employees have the right to refuse any interview request, this is likely to represent only a fleeting avoidance of the interview process since OSHA is authorized to issue subpoenas to compel testimony. When ...
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Congress Overturns OSHA Recordkeeping Rule

On March 1, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution of disapproval, under the Congressional Review Act, to block OSHA’s “Volks” rule. On March 22, 2017, the Senate followed suit and voted to overturn the rule. Now, the resolution will be forwarded to President Trump to sign, which is expected to occur. The Volks rule—formally the “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness” rule—was issued on December 19, 2016, during the final days of the Obama Administration. OSHA claims the rule was created to clarify that an employer’s duty to make and maintain accurate injury and illness records (OSHA 300 logs) is an ongoing obligation, and that OSHA has five-and-a-half years to cite an employer for failing ...
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