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Although numerous OSHA leadership positions remain unfilled, OSHA has announced a new Director for the OSHA Directorate of Construction.

Employers have long operated under the premise that the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides the exclusive remedy for workers injured on the job. Indeed, section 97.-10.1 of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act states that employers in compliance with the Act are protected from all other claims and remedies that could be brought by employees, dependents, next of kin, or representatives in the event of a workplace injury or death.

Most employers are aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can issue monetary penalties for health and safety violations occurring in the workplace. Many employers also know that in particular circumstances, OSHA can issue criminal sanctions. However, what employers may not know is that OSHA has also been referring workplace safety violations to state district attorney offices in fatality cases. A district attorney then reviews the case to determine if a company owner should be individually charged with manslaughter or other state criminal violations. 

Harkening back to the “Blacklists” imposed by the Obama administration, Dr. David Michaels, former Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, urged the government to ban a construction contractor from work on public lands in a tweet this week after the company pleaded guilty on charges related to the death of a worker. But can the government even do that?

Tags: OSHA

California has been wrought with devastating wildfires in recent years. Last year, in fact, the state suffered one of its most destructive wildfire seasons ever recorded; there were over 8,500 wildfires and the largest area of acreage was burned. The good news, for now, is that Cal Fire has reported that wildfires are down 90% in 2019.

Ever wonder what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would do if an employer refused to pay a fine? We just found out, and it’s not just the employer that needs to be concerned. After a New Jersey-based construction company failed for four years to pay $412,000 in penalties that the OSHA assessed against it, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals recently found the President – and only board member – of the company in contempt and therefore liable to pay the company’s penalty.

At the end of July, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) announced the issuance of a Program Policy Letter (“PPL”) to provide mine operators guidance regarding the existing requirement to provide escape ways or refuges at underground metal and nonmetal mines when miners must shelter in place.  The PPL is being issued for public comment prior to being final despite MSHA noting that the PPL is not to be considered rulemaking.  However, MSHA believes the PPL is necessary to address significant safety issues regarding the placement of a refuge in a location that provides miners access if they cannot escape.   

The majority of workplace shooting deaths could have been prevented if individuals had been present who possessed even the most basic trauma/stop-the-bleeding training and equipment. We provide links to approved providers and background on the Stop the Bleed movement.

Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) unveiled plans to lower the minimum legal age required to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. The FMCSA began the Under-21 Military Pilot Program and has requested public comment on another proposal to allow drivers ages 18-20 to operate commercial motor vehicles. Both these initiatives will address a dearth of drivers in today’s economy and comply with Section 5404 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

Unanimous decisions from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Commission are rare, but on July 11, 2019, the Commission ruled 5-0 to reverse an Administrative Law Judge’s finding of a fall protection violation in Sims Crane because the ALJ improperly shifted the burden of proof. Vacating the decision before it, the Commission found that the ALJ focused upon Sims’s counterarguments without determining whether the Secretary proved his claims by a preponderance of the evidence. The Commission then held that the Secretary failed to establish that a danger of falling existed as a violation of section 56.15005 requires. It vacated the Secretary’s citation without remand.

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