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 daunting task of complying with OSHA’s numerous federal and state occupational safety and health standards and regulations.  Read more about the webinar series, or click here to register for the remaining briefings.

As was mentioned during the webinar, these briefings will all be recorded, and the recording and slides from the Severe Violator Enforcement Program webinar are now available.  To download either or both, click here, scroll to the bottom of the page, insert the password “OSHA2” in the box, and click “Go.”  Links to a PDF of the slides and to the full recording of the webinar will appear at the bottom of the page.

James S. Frank, a Member in the Health Care and Life Sciences and Labor and Employment practices, and Serra J. Schlanger, an Associate in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice, co-authored an article for the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) entitled “Hospitals’ Heavy Lifting:  Understanding OSHA’s New Hospital Worker and Patient Safety Guidance.”

The article, published in AHLA’s Spring 2014 Labor & Employment publication, summarizes OSHA’s new web-based “Worker Safety in Hospitals” guidance, explains how the guidance relates to OSHA’s existing regulatory framework, and details what OSHA considers necessary for an effective Safe Patient Handling Systems as well as an effective Safety and Health Management System.

The article goes on to forecast what OSHA’s Hospital Safety guidance will mean in the future for employers in the healthcare industry, including:

  1. More Whistleblower Complaints;
  2. Heavier enforcement by OSHA;
  3. Increased enforcement by the Joint Commission; and
  4. Greater interest in safety and health related legislation.

 

Finally, the article provides recommendations for what hospital and health system employers can do now to prepare for these developments, including:

  1. Reviewing and digesting the new OSHA hospital patient and employee safety resource;
  2. Work with employees and/or contractors to improve Safe Patient Handling Programs and/or a Safety and Health Management Systems; and
  3. Prepare for more safety-related whistleblower complaints by setting up effective processes to quickly investigate and address complaints and employee injuries and illnesses.

 

Below are some excerpts from the article:

On January 15, 2014 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a new online resource to address both worker and patient safety in hospitals.

According to OSHA, a hospital is one of the most dangerous places to work, as employees can face numerous serious hazards from lifting and moving patients, to exposure to chemical hazards and infectious diseases, to potential slips, trips, falls, and potential violence by patients—all in a dynamic and ever-changing environment. . . . Continue Reading Hospitals’ Heavy Lifting: Understanding OSHA’s New Hospital Worker and Patient Safety Guidance

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 use of fall protection equipment for work on top of rolling stock, however, is one of the most confusing and inconsistently enforced OSHA requirements, particularly for work on top of railcars at grain elevators facilities and ethanol plants.

There are numerous work activities that require employees to stand on and walk between the tops of railcars . . .from stowage inspections and prepping cars, to helping guide a loadout spout into a railcar, or allowing state or federal grain inspectors to access railcars for sampling and grading.  With potentially miles of track where these work activities may need to be performed on top of railcars, there often is no feasible method for employees to tie off a harness and lanyard over the tracks.

The article goes on to explain the current state of the law in this area, including a detailed analysis of OSHA’s 1996 Miles Memo (a formal interpretation about rolling stock fall protection requirements), a recent OSH Review Commission decision interpreting the Miles Memo, and a series of recommended practices for employers.

Here is a link to the article.

 

Epstein Becker & Green is proud to report that Corporate INTL Magazine has named our national OSHA Practice Group based out of Washington, DC as the “Occupational Health & Safety Law Firm of the Year” in its 2014 Global Awards.

Here is a press release that EBG put out about the award.

The award was given after Corporate INTL’s research department conducted extensive reviews, drew insight from business leaders, advisers and investors throughout the world, and took feedback over the past year from the readership of Corporate INTL Magazine (over 70,000 company leaders and advisers), law firm partners, in-house counsel, CFO’s, CEO’s and Corporate Directors from all over the world.

According to Corporate INTL:

The award praises the work of firms who have been successful over the past 12 months in portraying excellent know-how and business savvy. Firms are selected based on independent research the magazine conducts as well as feedback from its editorial team. Selection is based on service type, service range, business type, geographical location, how the business operates, and the expertise each team can offer to companies that either trade or may want to trade in their chosen jurisdiction.  Corporate Intl is at the forefront of connecting corporate leaders to the world’s top lawyers, consultants and accountants since its founding in 2005.