It’s a Wonderful Time of Year! Let’s Keep it That Way!

Holiday plates overflow, we are more stressed, tired, rushed, and a little inclined to cut corners and bend a few rules.  Although there tend to be fewer work accidents this time of year, it is no time to ignore those basic practices we rely on all year round to ensure those around us make it home safely to enjoy the holiday. Ladders Hang the stockings with care. Don’t climb on chairs or other furniture to display your holiday decorations. Make sure step stools and ladders…
Continue reading...

OSHA Restores the Site Specific Targeting Program Based on E-Filing

OSHA reinstated the Site Specific Targeting Program (SST) effective October 16, 2018. The SST, OSHA’s main site-specific targeting inspection plan for non-construction workplaces that have 20 or more employees, will be based on the 300A data associated with a 2017 rule published by the US Department of Labor, requiring certain employers to publicly E-File injury and illness data, beginning in calendar year 2016. Prior to 2014, OSHA’s SST program was based on information collected in connection with the OSHA Data Initiative (ODI). The OSHA Data…
Continue reading...

Element Two of the Unpreventable Employee Misconduct Defense: Effective Communication

In part two of this four-part series addressing the “unpreventable employee misconduct” defense, we will examine the second element an employer must prove to successfully defend against an OSHA citation: that the employer effectively communicated a rule, which, if followed, would have prevented the violation. The idea behind this element is simple: the employer must be able to show that the employee whose conduct was in violation of the rule had previously been told about the rule. However, proving that the communication (1) occurred and…
Continue reading...

Unpreventable Employee Misconduct: Defending Your Company when there is No Defense to the Conduct

What if one or your workers – who should and does know better – violates an OSHA standard?  Shouldn’t an employer be able to defend itself from the violation even when there is no dispute that the underlying conduct occurred? The answer is yes, provided the four elements of the “unpreventable employee misconduct” defense are met. Unpreventable employee misconduct, an affirmative defense, is often raised by employers in OSHA enforcement actions. Thus, while OSHA bears the burden of proving a violation, the employer bears the…
Continue reading...

OSHA Relaxes Position regarding Safety Incentive Programs and Post-Incident Drug Screening

On October 11, 2018, OSHA issued a Memorandum (the Memorandum) ostensibly clarifying its position on post-accident drug testing and employee incentive programs.  Any fair reading of the Memorandum, however, shows that OSHA is actually doing a lot more than simply “clarifying” its position – in some respects, it is completely reversing course.  This is especially true with respect to safety incentive programs.  And employers should take note. Safety Incentive Plans OSHA’s “old” position on safety incentive plans – since at least 2016, and actually well…
Continue reading...

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…
Continue reading...

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…
Continue reading...

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,…
Continue reading...

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…
Continue reading...

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…
Continue reading...