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Category Archives: Process Safety Management

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Simple Strategies for Keeping Workers Safe When Working Outside in the Heat

As it gets hotter outside, employers should consider how best to protect their employees from work-related heat illness.  Thousands of workers fall victim to heat illness each year, and, tragically, many die from heat exposure at work.

Over the past several years, OSHA has significantly increased its focus on protecting employees from succumbing to heat illness.  Most recently, the agency has released a heat safety tool, available in both English and Spanish, which can be downloaded on an iPhone or Android device.  Employers can and should take advantage of this free app, which calculates the heat index for the worksite … Continue Reading

Are Your Drivers Following OSHA’s Best Practices for Winter Driving?

On January 11, 2015, a multi-vehicle pile-up took place in west Michigan involving nearly 200 vehicles, including at least one truck carrying fireworks, and another carrying formic acid.  The formic acid caused a HAZMAT event and the fireworks exploded in the truck that was carrying them.  Many were badly injured in the accident, including two firefighters who responded to the exploding fireworks.  Tragically, the driver of another semi-truck was killed.

Winter weather and hazardous driving conditions were significant causal factors in the pile-up.  Although OSHA does not have regulations specifically addressing winter driving, the agency does provide guidance for employers … Continue Reading

OSHA Announces Its Regulatory Priorities for 2015

On November 21, 2014, the Department of Labor released its Agency Rule List, which provides the status of all rulemaking efforts at each of its agencies.  OSHA dominated the list of regulatory activity in the Department, listing 26 regulations in the prerule, proposed rule, and final rule stages. 

Of these 26 items, OSHA announced that its top regulatory priorities include:

  • Efforts to control exposure to crystalline silica
  • Enhancements to current infectious disease protocols in healthcare and other high risk environments
  • Issuance of a final rule modernizing its reporting system for occupational injuries and illnesses, requiring electronic submission of injury and
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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
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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
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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
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Judge Strikes OSHA’s Expansion of the PPE Standard — OSHA Ignores the Judge

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

The deadline passed last week for OSHA to appeal a recent decision by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) that struck down OSHA’s attempt to expand its Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) standard by way of an enforcement memorandum that mandated oil and gas employers ensure their employees don flame retardant clothing (“FRC”) during drilling operations (OSHA’s “FRC Memo”).  The Judge ruled that the FRC Memo constituted “improper rulemaking under the aegis of an enforcement standard.” See Sec’y of Labor v. Petro Hunt LLC, OSHRCJ, No. 11-0873 (June 2, 2012).  The … Continue Reading

GHS & HazCom: 10 Things Employers Must Know About OSHA’s New Hazard Communication Standard

By Eric J. Conn and Casey M. Cosentino

Following a March 20, 2012 Press Release, on March 26, 2012, OSHA issued its much anticipated final Hazard Communication Rule (“HazCom”), which integrates the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (“GHS”) into OSHA’s old Hazard Communication Standard (“HazCom” or “HCS”).  The new HazCom Standard requires employers to classify chemicals according to their health and physical hazards, and to adopt new, consistent formats for labels and Safety Data Sheets (“SDS’s”) for all chemicals manufactured or imported in the United States.  According to Assistant Secretary Michaels, “OSHA’s 1983 Hazard … Continue Reading

CSB to Increase Participation of Non-Management Employees – At the Expense of Employers

By Forrest G. Read, IV and Eric J. Conn

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) announced earlier this month a new policy disguised as a nod to enhancing employee participation in CSB investigations, but which may actually represent a dramatic limitation in the investigation rights of both employees and employers.  The new policy expands the role of non-management employees in the CSB’s investigations into the causes of chemical accidents that occur at industrial facilities, but does so at the expense of employers’ involvement and employees’ rights.

By way of background, the CSB was created under the Clean … Continue Reading

Managing an OSHA Inspection: Answers to 5 Frequently Asked Questions

By Eric J. Conn

Below is a set of important questions that we are frequently asked by clients when OSHA unexpectedly shows up at their doorsteps.  These questions and many more are also addressed in our OSHA Inspection Checklist desk reference guide.

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Scenario 1:   An OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) arrives unannounced to begin an inspection, but the employer’s representative whom the employer desires to manage the OSHA inspection is not present at the workplace.  Can the employer request that the CSHO return later or wait to start the inspection … Continue Reading

10 Things You Must Know About OSHA’s Nationwide Chemical Facilities PSM NEP

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

At the end of November 2011, OSHA announced that it had extended nationwide what had been a limited pilot enforcement program targeting chemical facilities’ compliance with OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standard in a few Regions of the country.  This new Chemical Facilities PSM National Emphasis Program (Chem NEP) establishes policies and procedures for inspecting workplaces covered by OSHA’s PSM Standard.

The purpose of the Chem NEP is to allow OSHA to conduct many more, but focused inspections at chemical facilities selected from a list of … Continue Reading

OSHA Targets Manufacturers, Nursing Care Facilities, and Chemical Plants

By Eric J. Conn

What do manufacturers, nursing homes, and chemical companies have in common?  They all represent industries receiving special enforcement scrutiny from today’s OSHA.

OSHA is targeting manufacturers under a major Recordkeeping Enforcement National Emphasis Program (Recordkeeping NEP).  OSHA launched the Recordkeeping NEP at the end of 2009, originally selecting inspection targets across a wide array of industries.  A senior OSHA official has explained that “there are several different goals here.  One is just to find out what’s going on.  Another is to send a message to companies – via penalties – that injury and illness book-cooking won’t

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