OSHA Law Update A Hazard Communication

Tag Archives: Valerie Butera

16 Legal Tips: Handling OSHA Citations the Right Way

Epstein Becker Green’s Valerie Butera was one of sixteen legal professionals  interviewed to provide a tip for Intelivert’s recent article titled “16 Legal Tips: Handling OSHA Citations the Right Way” (Intelivert, 2016).

The article notes that the lawyers weighed in with “simple, actionable tips that can help you craft your legal strategy and directly affect the outcome of your OSHA interaction.”

FINE INCREASES AND CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS

Ms. Butera’s tip focuses on recent increases in OSHA fines and criminal prosecutions. She explains that “now more than ever, employers should be consulting with their OSHA counsel as soon as OSHA or the … Continue Reading

Lessons Learned from the First Year of OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program

On January 1, 2015, OSHA rolled out its Severe Injury Reporting Program, requiring all employers to report to OSHA within 24 hours any work-related amputations, inpatient hospitalizations, or loss of an eye.  The long standing requirement to report work-related fatalities to OSHA within 8 hours also remains in place.

According to a report issued by OSHA on January 17, 2016 evaluating the impact of the new reporting requirements, before the requirements were established, compliance officers were often dispatched to inspect a fatality in the workplace, only to discover a history of serious injuries had taken place there in the past, … Continue Reading

OSHA Quietly Changes the Group of Small Businesses Exempt from Inspections

Valerie Butera

In a recently updated directive to Regional Administrators and State Plan Designees from Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, the categories of small businesses exempt from programmed health and safety inspections changed.

This exemption applies to workplaces with 10 or fewer workers who perform work in industries OSHA deems low hazard.  OSHA identifies low hazard industries by studying the most recent results of mandatory surveys sent to employers in countless industries by the Bureau of Labor Statistics which collect information about how often employees were unable to perform their normal job duties because of workplace … Continue Reading

New DOJ/DOL Initiative Criminalizes Worker Safety Violations – Employment Law This Week

One of the featured stories on Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – is that in a year when OSHA penalties are already set to increase, a new enforcement initiative is putting pressure on companies to make sure they’re compliant.

The Department of Justice and the Department of Labor have teamed up to encourage federal prosecutors to pursue OSHA and other worker safety violations as environmental crimes. These crimes can be charged as felonies, while OSHA violations are considered misdemeanors. The initiative will facilitate the sharing of information and files between the DOJ and DOL … Continue Reading

The Eleventh Circuit Carves Out an Exception to the Supervisory Misconduct Defense

To establish that an OSHA regulation has been violated, the Secretary must prove that: (1) the regulation applied; (2) it was violated; (3) an employee was exposed to the hazard that was created; and (4) the employer knowingly disregarded the OSH Act’s requirements.  The general rule has been that the knowledge of a supervisor is imputed to the employer – so if the supervisor knew or should have known of the violation, his knowledge is imputed to the employer and the Secretary can use this fact to show that the employer had knowledge of the violation.

The Court of Appeals … Continue Reading

OSHA Assures Employers That Rapid Response Investigation Reports Will Not Be Used in Issuing Citations

Since OSHA’s revised fatality and severe injury reporting rule went into effect on January 1, 2015 (see related story), employers have been deeply concerned that the agency would use information contained in Rapid Response Investigation Reports (RRIs) — required by OSHA in response to approximately 50% of the reports made this year — as the basis for issuing citations and fines.  This concern stems from the fact that when OSHA finds an employer’s RRI unsatisfactory, such as where the employer merely blames the victim or fails to provide what the agency determines is an adequate plan to address identified hazards, … Continue Reading

Dollar Tree Agrees to $825,000 OSHA Fine – Employment Law This Week

One of the featured stories on Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – is Dollar Tree’s $825,000 fine for OSHA violations.

Retail store Dollar Tree has agreed to a hefty fine as well as continual monitoring of its stores across the US. A third-party monitor will conduct audits on 50 stores over the next two years. This settles a wide range of complaints arising from 13 different OSHA inspections. The agency is increasingly using this tactic of issuing repeat citations for the same violations at different company worksites. This could have a much bigger impact … Continue Reading

Dollar Tree Resolves Multiple OSHA Citations in Burdensome Corporate-Wide Settlement Agreement: Is This a Sign of Things to Come?

OSHA has employed many creative strategies to maximize its enforcement efforts during the Obama administration.  One such tactic involves scrutinizing employers with multiple worksites (retailers are a particularly easy target), sending compliance officers to inspect one of the worksites, issuing citations, and then visiting the employer’s other worksites, identifying the same problems found in the first worksite inspected, and issuing repeat citations to the employer based on the citation issued at the original worksite.  This approach gives OSHA significant bang for its buck, not only creating the opportunity to issue more citations by inspecting multiple facilities, but also making it … Continue Reading

OSHA Fines Are on the Rise: Extended Interview from Employment Law This Week

As our regular readers know, I was recently interviewed on our firm’s new video program, Employment Law This Week.  The show has now released “bonus footage” from that episode – see below!

In the interview, I elaborate on my recent post, “Employers Beware: OSHA Fines Are on the Rise for the First Time in Twenty-Five Years.”

Thanks for watching – I’d love to know if you have any questions. (And what you think about these videos!)

 

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OSHA Fines Rise – Employment Law This Week

Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – has an interview with attorney Valerie Butera, editor of this blog, on OSHA’s first fine increases in 25 years.

Under a new bipartisan budget bill, OSHA civil penalties will rise next year to reflect the difference between the Consumer Price Index in 1990 and in 2015 – an increase of as much as 82%. After this “catch up” adjustment, the fines will keep pace with inflation moving forward. Valerie describes how employers can boost their safety programs and avoid OSHA citations.

See below to view the episode and … Continue Reading

Employers Beware: OSHA Fines Are on the Rise for the First Time in Twenty-Five Years

OSHA has been unable to increase the civil penalties it can impose when an employer is cited for a violation since 1990.  But that is all about to change.  Hidden within the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, signed by President Obama on November 2, 2015, is a provision requiring OSHA to significantly increase its civil penalties.  A one-time “Catch Up Adjustment” will be based on the percentage difference between the Consumer Price Index in October 2015 (to be released later this month) and October 1990 – resulting in a penalty increase of approximately 80%.  This means that the $7,000 cap … Continue Reading

OSHA Targets the Health Care and Nursing Care Industries: Featured on Employment Law This Week

In one of the news stories on Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – EBG attorney George Whipple details OSHA’s recently increased focus on the health care and nursing care industries. The agency’s fines have historically been very low, but recently OSHA cited medical patient transportation company LifeFleet for several violations totaling more than $235,000. See below to view the episode or read more about how to stay compliant and avoid heavy fines.

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OSHA Means Business in Targeting the Health Care and Nursing Care Industries

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recently intensified its scrutiny of the health care and nursing care industries. On June 25, 2015, the agency announced a new enforcement initiative targeting inpatient health care and nursing care facilities. But this increased scrutiny of the health care and nursing care industries does not end there—OSHA is spreading its enforcement reach to other types of health care entities.

Recently, OSHA cited LifeFleet LLC, an Ohio medical patient transportation company, for training shortfalls and bloodborne pathogen violations. OSHA alleged multiple violations, including several costly willful violations, and is seeking fines totaling nearly $236,000—a … Continue Reading

OSHA’s New Option for Resolving Whistleblower Complaints: What Employers Need to Know

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 separate statutes.  The number of retaliation claims filed under the various statutes has risen steadily each year and the cost of investigating them has placed a tremendous strain on OSHA’s fiscal and physical resources.  Searching for a way to reduce the costly and time consuming process of an investigation and litigation, OSHA conducted pilot Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs in two of its regions from October 2012 to September 2013.  The pilot programs were well received by employers and whistleblowers alike, allowing for quick resolutions of disputes without the need of enduring a … Continue Reading

As Promised, OSHA Targets Health Care and Nursing Homes for Enforcement Actions

As previously discussed, OSHA has been carefully scrutinizing the health care industry lately.  And on June 25, 2015, OSHA officially introduced a new compliance nightmare for the inpatient health care and nursing home industries by announcing the details of the agency’s new health care enforcement initiative in a memorandum from Dorothy Dougherty, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, to OSHA Regional Administrators and State Plans. The memorandum is entitled “Inspection Guidance for Inpatient Healthcare Settings” (“guidance memo”).

The guidance memo requires both federal OSHA Regional Offices and State Plans to evaluate the number of work-related injuries … Continue Reading

OSHA’s Response to Compliance with the New Reporting Rules and What it Means to Employers

Although OSHA’s new reporting rule has been in effect for almost seven months now, it has caused some major changes in the way that OSHA operates.  Since the new reporting rule went into effect on January 1, 2015, OSHA has received more than 5,000 reports of work-related deaths, inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye.  As OSHA anticipated, compliance with the rule has focused the agency’s attention on industries and hazards that it had not focused on before.  For example, because of the unexpectedly high number of reports of amputations from supermarkets, OSHA issued a safety Fact Sheet last … Continue Reading

Health Care Industry: OSHA Is Quietly Gunning for You – Is Your Workplace Ready?

On April 2, 2015, Thomas Galassi, Director of the Directorate of Enforcement for OSHA, sent a memorandum to all Regional Directors announcing that the agency’s National Emphasis Program on Nursing and Residential Care Facilities would be extended until replaced by updated guidance or removed by the agency.  Mr. Galassi went on to state that, because the health care industry reports more work-related injuries and illnesses than any other general industry,

the Agency will continue to use both enforcement and collaborative efforts to address hazards such as musculoskeletal disorders from lifting patients or residents, exposures to tuberculosis, bloodborne pathogens, workplace violence, Continue Reading

OSHA’s Increased Emphasis on Protecting Health Care and Social Service Workers from Workplace Violence

For many years, OSHA has stressed the need for enhanced workplace violence policies to protect health care and social service workers.  The agency released guidelines for workplace violence prevention in the health care and social services industries in both 1996 and 2004, recognizing that caregivers are at an increased risk of unpredictable, violent behavior from the very people whom they provide care to.  In spite of these efforts, violence in health care and social service workplaces continues to rise.  In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 23,000 serious injuries due to assault at work.  More than 70 … Continue Reading

OSHA’s Appropriations Efforts Signal Increased Enforcement and Higher Penalties in 2015

President Obama’s recent budget proposal to Congress includes a proposed $592.1 million budget for OSHA this fiscal year — a 7 percent increase from fiscal 2015.  Although gaining approval of the proposal will surely be an uphill battle, which may be insurmountable in light of opposition from Republican lawmakers who oversee the appropriations process, the content of OSHA’s budget justification provides strong signals of its agenda for the coming year.

First, OSHA seeks to add 90 full-time positions to the agency for fiscal 2016.  Sixty of the new positions would be assigned to enforcement activities – forty of the new … Continue Reading

Complimentary Webinar – OSHA Forecast: Developments To Watch in 2015 and Beyond

To register for this webinar, please click here.

Join Valerie Butera, Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. EST for a 60-minute webinar.

This webinar will delve deeper into OSHA issues that will impact a wider range of industries in 2015.   In addition to a greater focus on enforcements and inspections, changes will occur for recording injuries and illnesses in the OSHA 300 Injury and Illness Recordkeeping log as well as reporting changes of severe injuries or illnesses.

Topics will include:

  • Where we are now
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