More than Enforcement: Exploring OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program

Congress created OSHA to assure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. While many employers view OSHA solely as a governmental enforcement agency, and some have adopted the view that it always must be “us versus them,” OSHA does offer no-cost, penalty-free assistance to employers. OSHA’s On-Site Consultation program provides confidential consultation services that target small- to medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several United States territories.…
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The Intersection of Workers’ Compensation and OSHA: Look Both Ways Before Crossing

In many ways, workers’ compensation (WC) and the OSHA are very different. WC is a statutory compensation scheme designed to limit an employer’s liability in exchange for more expedient payment of medical expenses, wage replacement, and death benefits. Most of these individual state-based compensation acts were in place long before OSHA. OSHA compliance and related issues are often marshalled by safety professionals and might be considered the pre-accident or injury prevention piece. WC is often comprised of risk management personnel and takes the stage once…
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OSHA Issues Final Rule to Revise Requirements in Safety and Health Standards; Estimated to Save Employer $6.1 Million Per Year

OSHA issued a final rule on May 13, 2019 that revises 14 provisions in the recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction standards. Citing concerns that the previous iteration of the standards were “confusing, outdated, or unnecessary,” OSHA first proposed the changes in October 2016. The revisions were completed as part of OSHA’s Standards Improvement Project, which began in 1995 in response to Presidential Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulations and Regulatory Review.” Prior revisions under the improvement project were issued in 1998, 2005, and 2011. Among…
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Voluntary Internal Safety Audits: “Do’s” and “Don’ts”

There is no disputing that taking a proactive approach to safety and ensuring compliance within your company is not only prudent – but critical – for employers. It is equally critical, however, that employers understand the benefits and potential liabilities that initiating these measures can create. This post will break down the “dos” and “don’ts” of internal safety audits. First and foremost: as a general rule, you should never engage in a voluntary safety audit if you are not prepared and willing to…
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Fall Protection in the Construction Industry: An Overview of Subpart M of the OSHA Construction Standards

When it comes to the risks associated with fall hazards, there are compelling reason to surpass any minimum level of training that may be required for employees. This is for good reason – Worker falls account for approximately one-third of all fatalities in the construction industry. Suffice it to say, the stakes are very high – and real. It is critical that employers provide proper fall protection for employees and undertake effective measures to ensure employee compliance. Proper procedure suggests that when employees don’t follow…
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OSHA Eliminates the Requirement for Certain Employers to Electronically Submit Information from Forms 300 and 301 to OSHA

On January 25, 2019, OSHA issued a final rule eliminating the requirement that employers with 250 or more employees electronically submit information from Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) to OSHA each year. These establishments, however, are still required to electronically submit information from Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) to OSHA through a secured OSHA website. Collection of calendar year 2018 information from the OSHA Form 300A began on January 2, 2019,…
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Element Four of the Unpreventable Employee Misconduct Defense: Enforcement of Work Rules Through Disciplinary Action When Violations are Discovered

In the final part of this four-part series, we examine the fourth element an employer must establish to successfully raise the “unpreventable employee misconduct” affirmative defense in response to an OSHA citation: that the employer effectively enforces its safety rules upon discovering any violations. Simply stated, this last element requires that an employer discipline its employees for violating any company safety rules. As with the other elements of this affirmative defense, documentation is critical. The fourth element of this defense goes to the very core…
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Element Three of the Unpreventable Employee Misconduct Defense: Insistence on Compliance and Established Methods of Discovering Violations, Despite Not Knowing About the Subject Violation

In part three of this four-part series addressing the “Unpreventable Employee Misconduct” defense, we will examine the third element an employer must prove to successfully defend against an OSHA citation: that the employer insisted on compliance and had methods of discovering violations of its rules, even though it did not know about the specific violation. Similar to all other elements of this defense, the concept is relatively simple: the employer must insist on safety compliance and have established methods for discovering violations of OSHA violations,…
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Before OSHA Arrives: Developing a Culture of Worksite Safety

In daily business practice, one of the most difficult decisions any company leader can make is to change company culture. Despite many company leaders providing a well-thought out strategic plan, the entire collective of company employees ultimately controls company culture. Therefore, to develop a culture of worksite safety, the key is to follow this basic approach: establish effective worksite safety practices, reflect on trending developments to improve worksite safety practices, and develop an annual strategy to revisit worksite safety practices. But, above all of this,…
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OSHA’s Recommended Practices For Safety And Health Programs In Construction: A Step-By-Step Approach To Implementing A Safety And Health Program

OSHA publishes a set of recommended practices for safety and health programs to help employers establish a methodical approach to improving safety and health in their workplaces. OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction (Construction Practices) has been updated to account for changes since the document was first published – over 30 years ago – taking into consideration, greater technology and more diversity among workers. The focus of the Construction Practices is on finding and fixing hazards before they can cause injury…
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