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Total Articles: 10

OSHA Penalties Increasing Once the Government Reopens

While much of the rest of the government is shutdown, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) is hard at work. OSHA which is an agency within DOL is one of the few agencies that is fully funded and operational. On January 15th, OSHA issued a pre-published version of its Federal Register notice for the increase in civil penalties for violations of OSHA standards and regulations to adjust for inflation.

Here OSHA Goes Again: 2019 Increases to Maximum Penalty Amounts Announced

Employers will be facing higher penalties from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“Fed-OSHA”) in 2019. On January 15, 2019, Fed-OSHA announced that it plans to increase the maximum penalty an employer can be issued for serious and other than serious citations to $13,260, and the highest amount that can be issued for repeat and willful violations to $132,598. Fed-OSHA’s announcement regarding the increases can be found here: https://www.osha.gov/penalties/2019InflationAdjustments.pdf and a chart containing all increases by the agency is below:

How to get Management to “Buy In” for Safety

To get the attention of CEO’s and upper level management, one must focus the conversation on the company’s bottom line. Often times, discussions of workplace safety involve conversations about increased expenses and red tape. However, the struggle to promote the need for additional workplace safety can be made easier if the conversation is focused on terms that CEO’s and management understand and are excited to implement. CEO’s and upper level management “relate to dollars and cents. They don’t relate to incident rates,” says Terry Hart, CSP, Director of Construction Safety at Marley Cooling Tower Co. Convincing management that a safe workplace helps, rather than hinders, the company’s bottom line is an effective way to get management to “buy in” for safety.

What a Partial Government Shutdown Would Mean for Workplace Safety Enforcement: Is OSHA in “The Final Countdown”?

With the threat of a partial government shutdown looming on December 21, employers are left wondering which government agencies will be impacted if the shutdown occurs. Presently, departments in the following areas will be impacted by a partial government shutdown: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Independent agencies like NASA and the Food and Drug Administration will also be restricted to essential personnel.

Autonomous Trucks are Coming to Mining Operations:What are the Safety Implications?

Most of the media attention paid to autonomous vehicles relates to the capabilities of passenger vehicles. But other companies are moving ahead with producing autonomous vehicles for use in commercial settings, such as the mining industry.

A 2019 L&E Forecast for In-House Counsel, Part I: A Workplace Safety Issue on the Horizon

In 2019, general counsels can expect the debate to rage on over the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposal to rescind the requirement that large employers electronically submit information from OSHA Forms 300 and 301, which contain individual employees’ private medical history data. The agency introduced this proposal at the end of July 2018, and the comment period closed on September 28, 2018, with more than 1,800 comments submitted.

Post Incident Drug Testing

On May 12, 2016, OSHA caused confusion and concern amongst employers in the preamble to 29 C.F.R. § 1904.35(b)(1)(iv) reporting requirements. The preamble appeared a prohibition, at the very least discouragement, of post-incident drug testing or policies. On October 11, 2018, OSHA provided a memorandum to clarify the Department’s position on post-incident drug testing. In particular, OSHA advises that

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.

OIG Continues Criticism of OSHA’s Severe Reporting Initiative

In September, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a draft report criticizing OSHA for not having appropriate controls in place to ensure employers report severe injuries and abate hazards. The September OIG report recommended to OSHA that the agency develop formal guidance and train staff on how to detect and prevent underreporting, consistently issue citations for late reporting, clarify some of its guidance and emphasize the need to conduct inspections for all incidents classified as Category 1.

Workplace Violence Prevention in Healthcare and Social Service: Calling OSHA to Action

On November 16, 2018, Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) introduced House Resolution 7141, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. The bill would force the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an interim final rule on workplace violence requiring “certain employers in the healthcare and social service sectors, and certain employers in sectors that conduct activities similar to the activities in the healthcare and social service sectors, to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan.” The bill broadly defines workplace violence, without regard to intent, to specifically include: