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Total Articles: 19

How to Prepare for an OSHA Inspection

As the complexity of OSHA inspections increase and penalties rise, employers need to ensure that they are fully prepared for such site visits. In this podcast, Littler’s Brad Hammock, co-chair of the firm’s Workplace Safety and Health practice group, discusses steps employers can take to prepare their worksites for when OSHA “comes knocking.” From initial compliance to developing a written protocol for managing the inspection process, this podcast describes the key components for navigating an OSHA inspection.

The Cult of Personality? Decline in OSHA Inspectors under President Trump

Every presidential administration has its priorities, and President Trump’s is no different. President Trump has put his stamp on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) by stalling, delaying, or modifying Obama Administration policies (think the anti-retaliation rule and the e-file accident report regulation).

Appeals Court Clamps Down On OSHA Investigations

In a significant victory for employers, a federal appeals court recently limited OSHA’s ability to expand accident investigations beyond their original and intended scope. The 11th Circuit’s decision in United States v. Mar-Jac Poultry, Inc. will immediately aid those employers with operations in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, but could also be of benefit to employers across the country. What do you need to know about the October 9 decision?

Safety Agency Applies Federal Law To Bar Employer Safety Violation Citation

The federal agency that reviews OSHA safety violation cases, also known as the OSH Review Commission, recently adopted the decision of one of its Administrative Law Judges who applied 5th Circuit precedent to reject a safety violation citation against a construction employer working in Texas. The June 1, 2017 decision is no doubt significant for the construction industry, as the Review Commission held that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could not cite a general construction contractor for an alleged safety violation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) when the general contractor’s own employees were not exposed (Secretary of Labor v. Hensel Phelps Construction Co.)

Employers May See Higher OSHA Fines Sooner than Expected

August 1, 2016, is the effective date for imposition of higher fines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but violations alleged in inspections occurring as recently as this February may be subject to the increased fees, according to OSHA. That is because OSHA can take as long as six months after the start of an inspection to issue citations and propose penalties.

Current Inspections Could Result in Citations with Increased Penalties

Under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 OSHA is required to increase civil penalties for the first time since 1990 and a one-time catch-up adjustment will occur in August 2016. Penalties are expected to be increased by roughly 80 percent, meaning a serious citation of $7,000 may now be $12,500 and a $70,000 willful violation may now be $125,000. The precise penalty amount will be known when OSHA publishes this information in the Federal Register on or before July 1, 2016.

Is OSHA Improperly Expanding the Scope of its Inspections?

Travis Vance’s Workplace Safety and Health Law Blog post, "Is OSHA Improperly Expanding the Scope of its Inspections?” was picked up by USPOULTRY Wire on April 13, 2016.

OSHA Targets Agribusiness Industry with New Citations

In recent months, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited several agribusiness employers for alleged violations of its standards, proposing significant penalties against them.

Complex OSHA Inspections to Get More Attention under New ‘Enforcement Weighting System’

The number of process safety management compliance inspections at oil refineries and chemical plants, as well as inspections involving workplace violence and ergonomics, are likely to increase under a new inspection strategy launched October 1 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Inspections are Not All Equal: OSHA Develops Tiered Inspection System

OSHA announced this week a shift in how it will evaluate inspections, recognizing that inspections are not all equal and that more-complex inspections deserve more weight. The complexity of an inspection affects the amount of time, manpower and other resources required by OSHA and this new tiered inspection system will reflect this complexity. Under the new system, “Enforcement Units” will be assigned to an inspection; the simplest inspection will be one unit and the most complex inspection could be as many as nine units. Dr. Michaels believes that this will allow OSHA to focus on “more impactful inspections” rather than the number of inspection completed each year.

OSHA to Focus on Certain Key Hazards During Healthcare Inspections

As announced a few days ago, OSHA is expanding its use of enforcement resources in hospitals and nursing homes to focus on the following recognized hazards: i) musculoskeletal disorders related to patient or resident handling; ii) bloodborne pathogens; iii) workplace violence; iv) tuberculosis; and v) slips, trips, and falls.

Deadly Incident Shows Importance of Addressing OSHA Citations Regarding Process Safety Management

OSHA recently investigated a DuPont facility after four workers were killed by the release of a lethal gas. OSHA cited DuPont for 11 safety violations and fined them $99,000. Nine of these violations were classified as “serious” (OSHA defines a serious violation as when the workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm), while one was a repeat violation.

Do You Really Know How To Manage An OSHA Inspection?

Many articles on handling OSHA inspections provide the same basic guidelines and little explanation of why employers should take certain steps. You already know to take photos whenever the Compliance Officer (CO) takes shots and to take notes. But do you know why to take those photos and what to look for? What do you need to note in order to challenge citations when they are issued six months later?

OSHA Citations on Fall Prevention and Exposure to Excessive Heat Affirmed on Appeal

Two recent court cases upheld citations that were issued for violations of OSHA’s fall protection standard and a willful citation for exposing workers to excessive heat.

OSHA: Union Representatives May Participate In Walkaround Inspections In Non-Union Companies

In a new letter of interpretation publically released on April 5, 2013 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced for the first time that during an OSHA inspection of non-union worksites, employees can be represented by anyone selected by the employees including outside union agents.

New Enforcement Procedures For Investigating Workplace Violence

On September 8, 2011, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its inaugural written enforcement directive for in-cidents of workplace violence. The directive will be used by district supervisors and area directors in evaluating whether to conduct an investigation into allegations of workplace violence. Moreover, the directive lists inspection procedures to be followed by compliance officers while conducting inspections as well as potential methods of abatement available to employers.

OSHA Issues Memorandum Announcing "Administrative Enhancements" to OSHA's Penalty Policies to Dramatically Increase Employers' Fines

On September 29, 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) took the next step in its 22-month effort to increase penalties and more vigorously enforce the OSH Act. OSHA head Dr. David Michaels sent to all of OSHA's Regional Administrators and the State Plan Administrators a memorandum outlining the deployment of the new Administrative Penalty. Effective October 1, 2010, all OSHA Area offices are directed to utilize the new penalty policy and the associated calculation system.

What to do When OSHA Comes Calling on a Hot Day.

OSHA recognizes that five to ten million workers are exposed to heat-related illnesses each year. Due to the belief that such illnesses are preventable occupational health hazards, effective March 23, 2010, OSHA established a Regional Emphasis Program (“REP”) for outdoor heat-related health hazards. The program applies to all worksites in Region VI, which is comprised of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and those worksites in New Mexico that are under OSHA’s jurisdiction. The REP is designed to prevent employees from developing heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Keeping the Ball in Your Court: Creating Allies in Your Workforce to Minimize OSHA Inspections, Citations, and Penalties

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration statistics, nearly 20 percent of all OSHA inspections are prompted by a complaint, typically from a current or former employee. Pending legislation that proposes dramatic increases in employee involvement in the inspection and citation process threatens to raise this percentage and increase the likelihood of unfavorable inspection results and more severe penalties, as a direct consequence of individual employee input. Proposed whistleblower protections that protect employees from retaliation if they make a complaint or get involved will likely bolster employee confidence to complain and participate in inspections. This increased employee involvement and a change in whistleblower protections, coupled with the anticipated overall swell in OSHA enforcement activity and increased penalties, may potentially expose employers to significantly greater liability for safety infractions than in the past, as well as create substantial employee relations problems.
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