Archives: OSHA Enforcement

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Federal Appeals Court Deals Blow to OSHA’s Ability to Cite Repeat Violations

On Tuesday, October 27, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a long- awaited decision in Sec’y of Labor v. Wynnewood Refining Co., LLC. That case originated in 2012 when OSHA inspected the company following a boiler explosion that killed two employees. OSHA issued several repeat citation items under the Process … Continue Reading

Surgical Masks, Respirators, and More: Employers Grapple with Personal Protective Equipment Requirements Amid Constantly Evolving COVID-19 Guidance and Laws

Eight months into the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic and employers in both healthcare and non-healthcare settings are grappling with requirements for employees’ use of personal protective equipment (“PPE”) and respiratory protection. Rather than clarify the requirements, continually evolving guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”), state safety … Continue Reading

Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Issues Spate of Pro-Employer Decisions

Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), a 3-Commisioner panel appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate which hears appeals of contested OSHA cases, issued two decisions vacating OSHA’s citations and one decision reclassifying a willful violation to a serious violation and reducing the penalty from $49,000 to just $3500. … Continue Reading

OSHA Enforcement Delays Can Get Citations Dismissed in Virginia

In Virginia, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citations can get dismissed if the agency delays too long. Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) enforces occupational safety and health laws on behalf of OSHA in Virginia. VOSH covers most private employers in Virginia, as well as all state and local employees. Unlike in other states, … Continue Reading

OSHA Outlines Discretion in Issuing Citations During Coronavirus Pandemic based on Employer’s Good Faith Efforts

On April 16, 2020, OSHA issued an Enforcement Memorandum directed to Regional Administrators and State Plan Designees giving them Discretion in Enforcement when Considering an Employer’s Good Faith Efforts During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.  Under the Memo, OSHA acknowledges that some “employers may face difficulties complying with OSHA standards due to the ongoing … Continue Reading

OSHA Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19 Matters

On April 13, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) announced an Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports. While OSHA has issued several enforcement memorandums on COVID-19 related issues in recent weeks, this guidance is specifically directed to OSHA’s Area Offices on conducting investigations … Continue Reading

OSHA Issues Enforcement Guidance on Recording COVID-19 Cases

Today, OSHA issued long over due guidance relating to the recordability of COVID-19 cases for employers.  In short, OSHA has stated that it will not enforce the recordkeeping standard,29 C.F.R. Part 1904, against the majority of employers due to the difficulty in determining whether an employee contracted COVID-19 at work unless there is objective evidence … Continue Reading

OSHA Expands Guidance on Respirator Fit-Testing to Cover all Industries

Due to the evolving coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic and emergence of outbreaks across the country, there have been widespread reports of critical shortages of personal protective equipment (“PPE”), such as masks, face shields, and gowns. OSHA previously issued guidance, including an April 3, 2020 memorandum and interim guidance and a March 14, 2020 enforcement memorandum, which alleviated some … Continue Reading

Los Angeles, New York Impose New Construction Requirements and Restrictions Due to COVID-19

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and some states have offered guidance to prevent employee exposure to COVID-19, Los Angeles, the state of New York, and New York City are enforcing more restrictive measures for construction sites. Based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Los Angeles … Continue Reading

OSHA Issues New Enforcement Guidance on Respiratory Protection

Earlier today, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA”) Directorate of Enforcement Programs issued a new memorandum and interim guidance (“Enforcement Guidance”) on enforcement of the respiratory protection standard, 29 CFR § 1910.134, and certain other health standards, in light of the severe shortages in respirator availability. Consistent with the agency’s March 14, 2020 enforcement … Continue Reading

OSHA Issues Temporary Guidance for Health Care Industry Hoping to Blunt Possible Respirator Shortage

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States, one concern is whether there are sufficient numbers of respirators in order to protect healthcare providers who are on the frontlines of dealing with infected and potentially infected patients. On March 11, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum stating that the government “must ensure that … Continue Reading

Cal/OSHA Shows Concern After Increase in Work-Related Fatalities

On December 18, 2019, Cal/OSHA issued a news release outlining California’s fatal workplace injury data for 2018. Each year California, in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, conducts a Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (“CFOI”). Cal/OSHA uses the data from the CFOI to help inform its enforcement and education priorities. In 2018, California … Continue Reading

OSHA Can’t Stop the Music, But Maybe Employers Should

On September 6, 2019, OSHA issued a letter of interpretation in response to an employers question regarding the use of headphones to listen to music on construction sites. The employer stated that some headphones are advertised as “OSHA approved” and asked whether OSHA had any specific regulation that prohibits the use of headphones to listen … Continue Reading

Federal OSHA Assumes Jurisdiction Over Cabin Crews Onboard Aircrafts

In 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a final policy statement outlining three areas that OSHA could regulate for cabin crewmembers on aircraft in operation. 78 Fed. Reg. 52848. This policy statement allows OSHA to apply its hearing conservation standard (29 C.F.R. § 1910.95), bloodborne pathogen standard (29 C.F.R. § 1910.1030), and hazard communication … Continue Reading

OSHA Releases Annual “Top 10”

With the end of the federal government’s fiscal year having ended on September 30, OSHA recently released the top ten violations for fiscal year 2019. Generally, this list does not change much from year to year with the top three violations tending to be fall protection, hazard communication, and scaffolding. OSHA noted that the violation … Continue Reading

OSHA Recommends Best Practices to Prevent Whistleblower Retaliation

You might be surprised to learn that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces 22 different whistleblower protection laws. This includes laws governing workplace safety and health at construction, manufacturing, energy generation or distribution and other worksites. It also includes a broad array of laws that regulate hazards and prohibited activities specific to airlines, … Continue Reading

The Heat is Off… Review Commission Reverses Decision in Heat Stress Case

On February 28, 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) issued a much anticipated decision in the case of Secretary of Labor v. A.H. Sturgill Roofing, Inc. The case involved two citations, one brought by OSHA under Section 5(a)(1), the general duty clause, that alleged Sturgill exposed its employees to “excessive heat” and … Continue Reading

OSHA Issues Enforcement Guidance for Crane Operator Certification Requirements

On February 7, 2019  the Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Operator Qualifications final rule became effective, requiring employers using cranes in the construction industry to document their evaluation of their crane operators.  That same day OSHA issued temporary enforcement guidance indicating that while it will still enforce the requirement that employers evaluate their operators before allowing them to … Continue Reading

The Hidden Costs of an OSHA Citation

Congress took employers by surprise when it increased Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) penalties nearly 80 percent in 2016. Today, a Serious violation can fetch a maximum penalty of $13,260, and a Willful or Repeat violation can cost up to $132,598. Citations often include multiple items, which can multiply these figures. When construction companies … Continue Reading

OSHA to Use Electronic Recordkeeping Data to Target Specific Employers

OSHA is beginning to use its electronic recordkeeping system to target inspections for employers. The agency launched a new initiative last week to focus enforcement resources on workplaces with a history of injuries and illnesses, but have not provided required data under its electronic recordkeeping rules. Announcing its Site-Specific Targeting 2016 (SST-16) Program, OSHA is … Continue Reading

11th Circuit Deals Blow to OSHA’s Inspection Authority

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a lower court’s order quashing an administrative warrant for the inspection of a poultry processing plant. USA v. Mar-Jac Poultry, Inc., No. 16-17745 (11th Cir. 2018). In February 2016, an employee of Mar-Jac Poultry, Inc. (“Mar-Jac”) was injured while repairing an electrical panel requiring … Continue Reading

OSHA Clarifies Agency’s Position on Drug Testing and Safety Incentive Policies

In a memorandum to Regional Administrators dated October 11, 2018, OSHA clarified the agency’s position as to whether certain drug testing policies or safety incentive programs would be considered violations of part 29 C.F.R. § 1904.35(b)(1)(iv). Part 29 C.F.R. § 1904.35(b)(1)(iv) prohibits employers from discharging or discriminating against an employee for reporting a work-related injury … Continue Reading
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