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Posts from October 2013.

I enjoy articles that I discover in Plant Engineering because one of my (many) goals is to obtain more coordination between the safety, engineering, maintenance and purchasing functions. Management of Change (MOC) affects far more than PSM, combustible dust and guarding and interlocks. We should all try to understand the plant engineers approach and work to better integrate safety and sustainability into those decisions. The following article is one of several on Plant Engineering's site.

EHS held the Second Annual America’s Safest Companies Conference this week in Atlanta. As we did last year, we worked with EHS Today to develop the conference and co-sponsored it. Our goal was not to develop the largest safety conference. Our goal was to genuinely develop the best conference. Okay, I recognize that every conference provider claims the same goal.

I worry a great deal about employers being hit with "failure to abate" citations where OSHA determines n a subsequent inspection that the employer failed to abate items cited at past inspections. In actuality, while we have handled failure to abate citations, it's probably been 20 years since a current client was tagged for failure to abate. I find that OSHA is pretty disciplined about employing failure to abate citations, but that does not stop me from worrying. Why? Because any time humans are involved, there is a risk that something fell through the cracks.

Whatever you may think of this Administration, one has to admire how well OSHA returned to full operations after the government shut down, and the behind the scenes work that made the return seem so seamless. As I wrote earlier and as reported by BNA, EHS and others, a small cadre of OSHA Area and Regional Office personnel did far more than simply respond to fatalities during the shut down. As a result, immediately upon return, OSHA Area Office personnel started dialing employers and advising them that they would treat the shutdown days as Federal holidays and extend the contest period for those cases contested if the parties wanted an Informal Conference. Since the return, we have participated in Informal conferences in Georgia, Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire and elsewhere. I was pleased that in each case, the Area Office was well prepared. Few things more frustrate me than when I extol the virtues of an Informal Conference and then it is obvious that the Office did not even read the file before we arrived, which is a waste of everyone's time. Not once since the return to work have we had this experience. We'll probably try a couple of the cases on which we have met, but not for lack of a spirited and detailed exchange at the Informal. Talk to your counsel, but in most cases, you should take the opportunity for the belated Informal Conference.

Next week, EHS Today hosts its second annual conference and celebration of the recipients of the 2013 Safest Companies In America award. Last year’s first time conference was the best safety event I have attended; mainly because the presenters and attendees were some of the most recognized companies in America for safety success. The multiple educational tracks were outstanding, but the time spent with attendees and fellow presenters at dinner and over drinks was even more useful. One can genuinely learn from attendees, and yes, I’ll be buying drinks again on behalf of Fisher Phillips, so come see us.

OK. Part deux. This time, we'll list "Pre-Plan, Pre-Project and Pre-Task" efforts by 2013 Willis AGC construction safety excellence award winners ....

Whatever you may think of this Administration, one has to admire how well OSHA returned to full operations after the government shut down, and the behind the scenes work that made the return seem so seamless. As I wrote earlier and as reported by BNA, EHS and others, a small cadre of OSHA Area and Regional Office personnel did far more than simply respond to fatalities during the shut down. As a result, immediately upon return, OSHA Area Office personnel started dialing employers and advising them that they would treat the shutdown days as Federal holidays and extend the contest period for those cases contested if the parties wanted an Informal Conference. Since the return, we have participated in Informal conferences in Georgia, Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire and elsewhere. I was pleased that in each case, the Area Office was well prepared. Few things more frustrate me than when I extol the virtues of an Informal Conference and then it is obvious that the Office did not even read the file before we arrived, which is a waste of everyone's time. Not once since the return to work have we had this experience. We'll probably try a couple of the cases on which we have met, but not for lack of a spirited and detailed exchange at the Informal. The Solicitors attorneys seem more slammed because basically none of them were allowed to work during the shut down, and no cadre continued their case prep in their absence. The OSHRC Judges seem to be doing pretty well. Many of these judges have excellent staff and they are accustomed to wheeling and dealing to make schedules work.

Last week, I hosted the first edition of Fisher Phillips’ new monthly webinar series – “Workplace Safety Wednesdays.” I discussed recent decisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, MSHA's new Miners' Rights Guide, updates to the HazCom standard, and other topics of interest. I hope you were able to attend and enjoyed the webinar as much as I did.

Fran Sepler recently posted an insightful blog, “I’m Sort of Sorry: Coaching the High Level Harasser” discussing coaching a high-level performer regarding harassment, poor behavior or insensitivity. It takes wisdom and experience to deal with an executive who controls valuable business or can fire you if your message is displeasing.

Although OSHA's Process Safety Management (PSM) standard may be the most challenging of OSHA's regulations, the PSM standard, along with NFPA consensus standards about combustible dust have raised the importance of management of change (MOC) outside of refineries and chemical plants, and for the HR professional.

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