In light of a recent decision from the Indiana Supreme Court, Indiana employers—and construction companies in particular—should review their contracts and subcontracts to determine if they have unwittingly assumed a duty of care for other entities’ employees. In Ryan v. TCI Architects/Engineers/Contractors, Inc. et al., the Court ruled that a general contractor’s “form contract” with its client caused it to assume a duty of care to keep a worksite safe for a sub-subcontractor’s employee—even though the general contractor’s subcontract placed the onus of securing employee safety on the subcontractor. — N.E.3d —, 2017 WL 148885 (Ind. Apr. 26, 2017). As a result of this ruling, a general contractor can potentially be liable to a subcontractor’s employee who suffers a workplace injury.
OSHA has now officially withdrawn the so called “Volks Rule” that had attempted to set a 5 year limitations period for OSHA Recordkeeping violations. The rule received its nickname from the D.C. Circuit Court case that held there was only a 6 month limitations period pursuant to the OSH Act, and the rule was OSHA’s attempt to undue that Circuit Court ruling by promulgating the new regulation in the waning days of the Obama Administration
During his April 25 press conference, Dale Jr. stated that his recent concussions, the latest suffered during the 2016 season, led to his decision to retire. He said he wanted to “leave on his own terms.” Dale Jr. was concerned that a future injury may not only end his career but permanently impact his health if he remained in a racecar.
OSHA has provided notice, in the context of an on-going federal lawsuit, (National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Dougherty, N.D. Tex., No. 16-2568, 4/27/17), that it has rescinded the interpretation letter and removed the guidance from OSHA’s Field Operations Manual (FOM).
If one listens to various Democrat and labor talking heads, you would think that Congress has rolled back 40 years of worker protections by passing a resolution killing the new OSHA rule, which permitted OSHA to cite employers for record-keeping violations up to five years old, rather than the six-month look back applicable to other violations.
Federal OSHA increased its maximum penalties last summer for the first time since 1990. The increase occurred pursuant to a new law requiring federal agencies to adjust penalties to account for inflation. However, the OSH Act, which specifically provides the maximum penalties Fed-OSHA can administer, was not amended. It still prevents Fed-OSHA from issuing penalties higher than the levels set in 1990.
Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the Midnight Rules Relief Act by a vote of 238-184. This Republican-backed measure would amend the Congressional Review Act and allow Congress to overturn, en masse, any federal regulation enacted during the final year of a president’s term. If approved by the Senate and signed into law, the Act could have broad implications for any regulation passed in 2016, including, among many other workplace law regulations, the recordkeeping rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and its related anti-retaliation provisions.
A recent rash of attacks on Uber and Lyft drivers raises questions regarding the safety of these gig economy workers. Drivers must often work under dangerous circumstances, including chauffeuring complete strangers, many of whom are intoxicated and thus need a designated driver, to unfamiliar destinations at all times of the day and night.
We’re all scrambling for any hint of impending OSHA changes, but are limited largely to speculation because we do not yet have a new Secretary of Labor or an Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. Career OSHA management at the DC, Regional and Area Office level simply advise that “it’s business as usual.”
After every public shooting, we discuss how to prevent and better respond to the next active shooter, but each subsequent shooting event suggests we are not acting upon knowledge gained.