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Posts from December 2013.

In our competitive environment, every manufacturer struggles to do more with less and to find capital for “nonproduction” areas, such as maintenance, safety, training, housekeeping and HR. If done in a shortsighted fashion, the employer learns through painful experience the sacred law of “unintended consequences.” Plant Engineering magazine (yes, a lawyer can read such stuff) ran a brief instructive story on harm to production and profits resulting from gradually shifting almost all maintenance functions to production employees. You’re probably thinking that “I wouldn’t do that,” but many employers have eliminated certain housekeeping workers and relied upon production employees to clean up their area or machine. One of the contributing factors to the deadly Imperial Sugar combustible dust explosion was accumulation of material in work areas … in part because operators were supposed to clean up after their shift, and did not do so.

We wanted to let you know about the next 3 editions of Workplace Safety Wednesdays so that you are able to save the dates for you calendar. There are some great topics coming up, so please feel free to register by clicking the links below and share this information with your friends and colleagues!


These are the links I sent to F P attorneys after recently conducting an in-house session on our workplace safety practice. The focus of the links was not on building a safety culture, which is my favorite topic, or on the various labor and employment topics I regularly write upon.

These posts only deal with 2013 OSHA enforcement issues. These posts also do not include other attorneys' posts or great stuff from sites such as TLNT, EHS, etc.

OSHA Inspections

Yesterday I shared a link to a post discouraging managers and employees from drinking at parties and in fact use the conversations where you are the sober one. Today, I am linking to a "kind-of" contrarian view from another wonderful writer, who argues that one should use drinking at company parties as a way to build a better reputation and relationships within the company. Enjoy!

Tim Sackett always writes practical and entertaining posts, Today’s post, “The Number One Reason You Should Never Drink at an Office Function” is no exception. Tim goes beyond cautioning us to not make a fool of ourselves with a tongue loosened by alcohol. He points out that bonds can be created and information exchanged by being the sober one among drinkers.

Hopefully you do not need further motivation to maintain an effective workplace safety culture; however, Senator Labor Chair Tom Harkins’ December 11, 2013 Report may serve as additional motivation. In the 4” thick Report, “Acting Responsibly? Federal Contractors Frequently Put Workers’ Lives And Livelihoods At Risk,” the writers provide detailed information of OSHA citations and of wage claims against numerous Federal contractors (by name). The appendices to the Report contain detailed analysis of the Top 100 OSHA Violations and Penalties and the Top 100 Wage Hour Division Back Wage Payments for 2007 through 2012.

Almost 4.1 million employees missed work due to illness last January, which was the most since 2008. Even worse, the four-month peak season lasted through March, so the numbers continued to add up. Some years, absences during that four-month period ran at 3.8 million a month, for a whopping total of 15+ million absences. Remember news outlets carrying stories in January 2013 about the City of Boston declaring a state of public-health emergency and of Chicago hospitals having to send flu patients to other hospitals?

Yesterday, the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit denied the mining industry's request to stay implementation of MSHA's new POV final rule, pending its review of the rule. Essentially, the Court of Appeals found that enforcement of the rule would not cause irreparable harm to the mining industry during the pendency of the appeal.

After 30 years of seeing the worst of the workplace, I have few heroes left. Today, I lost my JFK or MLK. I’ll remember where I was sitting when I learned that the lion who was Nelson Mandela, had roared his last. I choose to believe that’s how he went out. As a lion of a man.

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