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Category Archives: Special Emphasis Program

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Looking to Create or Enhance A Workplace Anti-Retaliation Program? OSHA’s Recommended Practices

On January 13, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued non-binding recommendations to aid employers with creating new or improving existing workplace anti-retaliation programs.  OSHA’s recommendations apply to all public and private employers that are subject to the 22 whistleblower protection statutes that OSHA enforces.[1]

Under the various federal whistleblowing protection statutes, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who report or raise concerns about workplace health and safety issues. OSHA encourages employers to create and maintain an effective workplace anti-retaliation program so they will not only comply with federal whistleblowing protection laws, but also create a workplace … Continue Reading

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 to Target Auto Supply Manufacturers

By Amanda R. Strainis-Walker

OSHA recently launched a Regional Emphasis Program (REP) that will focus enforcement resources on employers operating in the automotive supply manufacturing industry.  This new Auto Supply Manufacturers enforcement program will target manufacturers in the southeast that supply engines, airbags, trim, or any other automotive products.  The specific geographic areas covered by the inspection program include at least Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama.

“Hazards associated with the Auto Parts Supplier Industry that are the focus of this REP continue to be the source of serious injuries, including amputations, and deaths to employees,” OSHA explained in the REP.  “The

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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

New California Law Requires Employers to Provide “Cool-Down Recovery Periods”

By Alka N. Ramchandani and Michael D. Thompson

In recent years, Cal-OSHA has taken an aggressive stance against exposing employees to potential heat illness, often citing employers and proposing significant penalties for failing to provide to employees who work in high heat conditions with adequate drinking water, shade, training, and/or cool-down periods.  Furthermore, as noted by the California Supreme Court in Brinker v. Superior Court, monetary remedies for the denial of meal and rest breaks “engendered a wave of wage and hour class action litigation” when added to the California Labor Code more than a decade ago.

The California … 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 Launches Ergonomics Campaign in Healthcare Industries

By Eric J. Conn, Head of Epstein Becker & Green’s OSHA Practice Group

OSHA recently announced a campaign to raise awareness about the hazards likely to cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among health care workers responsible for patient care.  Common MSDs suffered in the patient care industry include sprains, strains, soft tissue and back injuries.  These injuries are due in large part to over exertion related to manual patient handling activities, often involving heavy lifting associated with transferring and repositioning patients and working in awkward positions.

“The best control for MSDs is an effective prevention program,” said MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA’s Regional

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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 To Target Exits and Exit Routes

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

Last month, OSHA issued an enforcement memorandum directing inspectors to scrutinize whether employers provide and maintain adequate means of exit; i.e., unlocked, unobstructed, and clearly marked exit doors and exit routes and doors that comply with 29 C.F.R. 1910 Subpart E – Means of Egress (specifically, the various requirements of 1910.36).  The memo was issued in response to a deadly explosion and ammonia release at a poultry processing plant in China on June 4, 2013, in which at least 120 employees lost their lives, … 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
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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

OSHA Forecast: Developments to Watch For In 2013

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all of you, and Happy 1st Anniversary to the OSHA Law Update blog.  On December 20th, we celebrated our first full year of updates and articles (56 of them) about important OSHA Law topics here on the OSHA Law Update blog.  We would hardly have the energy or enthusiasm to keep the OSHA Law Update current if it were not for all of the incredibly positive feedback, comments, and questions that we have received over the year from all of you.  Thank you for that.

Just as we did last year, … Continue Reading

OIG Recommends Changes to OSHA’s Site Specific Targeting Program

By Paul H. Burmeister

The Site-Specific Targeting Program (SST) is OSHA’s primary “programmed” inspection plan for non-construction workplaces.  The SST Program is geared to address OSHA’s goal of reducing the number of injuries and illnesses that occur at individual workplaces, by directing enforcement resources to those workplaces where the highest rate of injuries and illness have occurred.

The SST is driven by data received from the prior year’s OSHA Data Initiative Survey.  Using the data from this annual survey, and criteria that change every year, such as different industries, fluctuating thresholds of injury data (mostly average DART rates by industry), … 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
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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
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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,

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Unsurprising Results from OSHA’s Recordkeeping NEP

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

According to a recent report to Congress from OSHA, the Agency’s multi-year Injury & Illness Recordkeeping National Emphasis Program (“Recordkeeping NEP”) continued through its termination in 2012 to yield less alarming results than the OSHA leadership team forecasted, despite revising the program in late 2010.

The initial version of the Recordkeeping NEP was put on hold due to lower than expected (at least by OSHA) instances of recordkeeping abuses (i.e., employers deliberately under recording injuries and illnesses), so OSHA attempted to modify the targets of the Recordkeeping NEP to … 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

Complimentary Webinar – Preparing for and Managing an OSHA Workplace Safety & Health Inspection

Join us Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 9:00 am Eastern either by Webinar or in person for a complimentary briefing presented by Epstein Becker Green attorneys Eric J. Conn and Amanda R. Strainis-Walker of the Firm’s national OSHA Practice Group.

The briefing will cover actions that employers should take now to prepare their workplaces and workforce for unexpected visits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), review employers’ and employees’ rights during an OSHA inspection, and discuss inspection strategies to ensure the best possible outcome from an inspection.  The briefing will cover:

  • OSHA’s current enforcement initiatives and trends
  • OSHA’s
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