OSHA Law Update A Hazard Communication

Category Archives: Grain Handling

Subscribe to Grain Handling RSS Feed

Webinar Recording — OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program

On June 10, 2014, Epstein Becker Green’s national OSHA Practice Group presented a webinar regarding OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The SVEP is an OSHA enforcement program intended by OSHA to direct its enforcement resources at employers whom OSHA believes are “indifferent to their OSH Act obligations.”

The webinar covered:

  • What the SVEP is;
  • How and when employers “qualify” into it;
  • What the consequences are for doing so;
  • Interesting data and trends about the SVEP; and
  • Tips to help employers avoid this fate.

This webinar was the second part in a five-part OSHA webinar series for employers facing the … Continue Reading

OSHA Enforcement of Fall Protection on Rolling Stock — A BioFuels Journal Article

The national OSHA Practice Group at Epstein Becker Green co-authored an article in BioFuels Journal entitled “Railcar Fall Protection: What OSHA Requires from Ethanol Plant Operators.”  Although the article principally addresses OSHA’s enforcement landscape related to work on top of railcars at ethanol plants, the analysis carries over to work on top of any rolling stock (e.g., tanker trucks, railcars, rigs, etc.) in any industry.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Addressing fall hazards is always among the OSHA’s top enforcement priorities.  Indeed, OSHA’s fall protection standards continue to rank among the most frequently cited year after year.  The

Continue Reading

Webinar Recording: “Railcar Fall Protection: What OSHA Requires of Grain Elevator Operators”

On Tuesday, December 3, 2013, in conjunction with the Grain Journal, Eric J. Conn, Head of the national OSHA Practice Group at Epstein Becker & Green, delivered a webinar focused on the OSHA enforcement landscape related to work on top of rolling stock (specifically railcars) at grain elevator facilities.  The webinar, including a Q&A session, was recorded, and the Grain Journal has made the recording available online.  The recording includes an audio broadcast with a video of the accompanying PowerPoint presentation.

Here is a link to the recording of the Railcar Fall Protection webinar and a link … Continue Reading

Free Webinar: “Railcar Fall Protection Enforcement – What OSHA Requires from Grain Elevator Operators”

On Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 3 PM (Eastern) / 2 PM (Central), Eric J. Conn, Head of the national OSHA Practice Group at Epstein Becker & Green will conduct a free webinar focused on OSHA’s enforcement landscape as it relates to work on top of rolling stock (specifically railcars) at grain elevator facilities.  This is the second in a series of OSHA law related webinars for the grain industry in conjunction with Grain Journal.

Whether it’s prepping cars down track away from the elevator, helping to guide a load out spout into a railcar, or allowing state … Continue Reading

5 Issues OSHA Will Target over the Remainder of 2013

By Eric J. Conn, Head of the OSHA Practice Group at Epstein Becker Green

An industry contact recently asked me what five issues I expected OSHA would be focusing its enforcement efforts on for the balance of this year.  Here was my response:

1.  Emergency Exits & Exit Routes – A couple of months ago, OSHA issued an enforcement memorandum directing inspectors to scrutinize whether employers were providing and maintaining adequate means of emergency exit; i.e., unlocked, unobstructed, and clearly marked exit doors and exit routes in compliance with 29 C.F.R. 1910.36.  We just wrote a blog post about this … Continue Reading

Webinar Recording: “New OSHA Sweep Auger Enforcement Policies… How They Will Affect You!”

On Sept. 4, in conjunction with the Grain Journal Magazine, Eric J. Conn, Head of the national OSHA Practice Group at Epstein Becker & Green, delivered a webinar briefing entitled “New OSHA Sweep Auger Enforcement Policies… How They Will Affect You.”  The 120-minute webinar, including 45+ minutes of Q&A, was recorded, and the Grain Journal has made the recording available online.  Here is a link to the OSHA / Sweep Auger webinar recording.

The Sweep Auger webinar followed an article recently published in the July/August edition of Grain & Feed Milling Technology Magazine entitled “Sweeping Changes to OSHA’s Sweep … Continue Reading

Sweeping Changes to OSHA’s Sweep Auger Enforcement – Grain & Feed Milling Technology Magazine (August 2013)

Back in January, we posted a breaking news story here on the OSHA Law Update blog about a major settlement of an OSHA enforcement action renewing the grain industry’s right to have employees work inside grain bins with energized sweep augers under certain specified conditions — aka, Ten Sweep Auger Safety Principles.

Since the settlement became a final order of the OSH Review Commission in January, federal OSHA’s national office in Washington, DC issued a May 3, 2013 Enforcement Memorandum to all of the Agency’s Regional Offices that memorialized the terms of the settlement and turned them into a national … Continue Reading

OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program — Washington Legal Foundation Legal Backgrounder

Last week, Washington Legal Foundation published a Legal Backgrounder regarding OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (“SVEP”) authored by Eric J. Conn, Head of Epstein Becker & Green’s national OSHA Practice Group.  The Legal Backgrounder expands on a series of posts here on the OSHA Law Update blog regarding OSHA’s controversial Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The article focuses on a White Paper issued by OSHA this Spring, in which OSHA analyzes the first 18 months of its new, controversial enforcement program.  The White Paper concludes that the SVEP is “off to a strong start” and is “already meeting certain key goals,” … Continue Reading

OSHA Claims Its Severe Violator Enforcement Program is “Off to a Strong Start”

By Eric J. Conn, Head of the OSHA Group at Epstein Becker & Green

Introduction

OSHA recently issued a White Paper analyzing the first 18 months of its controversial enforcement initiative known as the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (“SVEP”).  Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, the White Paper somehow concludes that the SVEP is “off to a strong start,” and that it “is already meeting certain key goals,” including:

  1. Successfully identifying recalcitrant employers who disregard their OSH Act obligations; and
  2. Effectively allocating OSHA’s follow-up enforcement resources “by targeting high-emphasis hazards, facilitating inspections across multiple worksites of employers found to be
Continue Reading

OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program Defies Constitution – Feed & Grain Magazine Article (Jan. 2013 )

The January/February 2013 issue of Feed & Grain Magazine featured an article entitled “Severe Violator Enforcement Program Defies Constitution” authored by Eric J. Conn, the Head of EBG’s national OSHA Practice Group.  The article expands on a series of posts here on the OSHA Law Update blog regarding OSHA’s controversial Severe Violator Enforcement Program (“SVEP”).

The article provides a detailed explanation about the SVEP, including:

  1. The origin and intent of OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program;
  2. the consequences to employers who “qualify” for the SVEP;
  3. How and what types of employers have been qualifying for the Program;
  4. The questionable legality of
Continue Reading

Breaking News: Sweeping Changes to OSHA’s Sweep Auger Enforcement

By Amanda R. Strainis-Walker and Eric J. Conn

The roller coaster ride that has been OSHA’s enforcement policy in connection with work inside grain bins with energized sweep augers has taken another major turn.  After decades of employees working inside grain bins with sweep augers, a string of recent, somewhat confusing, Interpretation Letters issued by OSHA effectively banned the practice outright.  Now, a groundbreaking settlement of an OSHA case against an Illinois grain company became a Final Order of the OSH Review Commission in January, and that settlement renewed the industry’s right to work inside grain bins with energized sweep … Continue Reading

Update to OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program

By Eric J. Conn, Head of the OSHA Practice Group

Back in September, we posted an article critiquing OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (“SVEP”) in general, and the newly announced “exit criteria” in particular.  Since that time, in the beginning of October, OSHA updated its embarrassing SVEP Log that it maintains for public consumption on the OSHA website.  With the new data included on the SVEP Log, we thought this would be a good time to provide an update about the SVEP, including:

  • The types of employers and industries that OSHA is most frequently qualifying for the program;
  • The
Continue Reading

OSHA FAQ Series (FAQ #1: Inspection Triggers)

Back in March we answered five frequently asked questions related to OSHA inspections.  We received a lot of positive feedback about that post and several requests to address additional questions.  Following up on that feedback, we will be adding additional FAQ posts as a regular feature of the OSHA Law Update Blog.  In addition to the text responses to the FAQs, we will also provide a webinar link with audio and slides to provide more in depth responses to each question.  Click on the image of the slide below to watch and listen to the first webinar response.

In this … Continue Reading

OSHA Reveals Unfair Exit Criteria from Its Unconstitutional Severe Violator Enforcement Program

By Eric J. Conn, Head of the OSHA Practice Group

On June 18, 2010 OSHA replaced its much-maligned Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP) with a new and equally problematic initiative called the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).  The SVEP is intended to focus OSHA’s enforcement resources on those employers whom OSHA believes demonstrate indifference to their OSH Act obligations by committing certain types of violations, including:

  • Any violation categorized as “Egregious”;
  • One or more Willful, Repeat or Failure-to-Abate violations associated with a fatality or the overnight hospitalization of three or more employees;
  • Two or more Willful, Repeat or Failure-to-Abate violations in
Continue Reading

Article: OSHA Continues Trend of Informally Imposing New Rules

By Eric Conn, Head of the OSHA Practice Group

We recently had an article published by the Washington Legal Foundation entitled “OSHA Continues Trend of Informally Imposing New Rules.”  The article expanded on an earlier post here on the OSHA Law Update Blog regarding OSHA’s attempts to circumvent Formal Notice and Comment Rulemaking by changing regulatory requirements through interpretation letters, directives, and enforcement memoranda.  Here is a link to the original post.

Below is an excerpt from the expanded article, published this week in Washington Legal Foundation’s Legal Opinion Newsletter:

On June 2, 2012, an Occupational Safety & Health Review

Continue Reading

Article About What Grain Handlers Should Do to Prepare for and Manage OSHA Inspections

By Eric J. Conn, Head of the OSHA Practice Group

We recently authored an article for Feed & Grain magazine entitled “When OSHA Comes Knockin’.” The article explains why employers in the grain industry need to be prepared for an OSHA inspection, and outlines steps they should take to prepare for and manage a visit from an OSHA inspector.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

As Alexander Graham Bell famously said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” No truer words could be said to employers in the grain industry today about OSHA inspections. Secretary of Labor,

Continue Reading

Grain Elevator Explosion Leads to $180 Million Jury Verdict

By Eric J. Conn

A federal jury recently awarded three workers approximately $180 million in damages for injuries sustained in a 2010 explosion at a grain elevator owned by ConAgra Foods, Inc.  See Jentz v. Conagra Foods, Inc., No. 3:10-cv-00747 (S.D.I. June 1, 2012).  At the one-month trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, the plaintiffs alleged that ConAgra and West Side Salvage Inc., a maintenance contractor and co-defendant, were liable for their injuries because they failed to:

  1. Clean the grain bin properly;
  2. Maintain wheat middling pellets (flour production byproducts used as animal feed)
Continue Reading

OSHA’s Enterprise-Wide Approach to Enforcement

This week, Washington Legal Foundation published an article  regarding OSHA’s New Enterprise-Wide Approach to Enforcement, authored by EBG attorneys Eric J. Conn and Alexis M. Downs.  The article expands on a February 2012 post entitled “Enterprise Enforcement: OSHA’s Attack on Employers with Multiple Locations,” here on the OSHA Law Update Blog.

The gist of the article and the prior blog post is that companies that operate multiple facilities in different locations, such as national retail and grocery chains, grain cooperatives, large national nursing and medical care organizations, manufacturers, hotel groups, and many others, need to be aware of four new … Continue Reading

Grain Journal Features OSHA’s Enforcement Efforts in the Grain Industry

Late last year, I delivered a keynote address to the National Grain & Feed Association’s (NGFA) annual Country Elevator Conference regarding:

  1. Why it is important for grain handlers to prepare now for an OSHA inspection;
  2. What to do now to prepare for an OSHA inspection; and
  3. How best to manage an OSHA inspection once it begins.

The Grain Journal, a leading voice in the grain industry, published a three-part article series about my speech in its March/April issue.  The articles   – “OSHA Is Targeting You,” “Preparing for an Inspection,” and “During the Inspection” – can be found here at … Continue Reading