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Posts from August 2014.

MSHA recently released the results of the July 2014 impact inspections. Over the past several years, MSHA has conducted impact inspections at Coal and M/NM mines that involve several inspectors and usually result in a large number of citations. Mines are selected for impact inspections based on several criteria, including hazard complaints, plan compliance issues, workplace examination citations, accidents, injuries, and illnesses, and enforcement history.

Electronic communications are a mixed blessing. Business is more efficient and new ways of commerce continue to open. However, ubiquitous electronic communications have eroded our personal time and presented near-addicting distractions. From a legal standpoint, electronic communications, and especially e-mails, not only create damaging evidence but may even contribute to legal claims.

I love reading the Economist and they justified my appreciation with an August 9 Obituary on Warren Bennis, who they rightly described as “the world’s most important thinker on the subject that business leaders care about more than any other: themselves.”

Location and price generally control office-space decisions. Even if you construct a new building or do extensive build-out, you probably have not devoted much consideration to whether your new space meets OSHA requirements.

On July 15, 2014, Thomas Galassi, OSHA’s Director of Enforcement Programs, released a memorandum addressed to all OSHA regional administrators regarding OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative—a program developed to increase the agency’s focus on the safety of temporary workers. The purpose of the memo was to clarify the responsibilities of staffing agencies and host employees and to remind OSHA field staff of the enforcement policy with respect to temporary workers.

The theory is that the contractors are under such competitive pressure that they will ignore OSHA requirements and will fail to pay for all hours worked or for overtime premiums. The assumption is that part of the reason manufacturers hand off certain functions is to escape liability for wage and safety violations. Moreover, critics believe that temporary and other non-traditional employees receive inadequate supervision and safety training.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to “facilitate coordination and cooperation” between the two agencies concerning the anti-retaliation provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA), 49 U.S.C. § 31105, and the anti-coercion provision, 49 U.S.C. § 31136(A)(5). The STAA shields drivers of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), including independent contractors, from termination, discipline or other retaliation for reporting or engaging in protected activity regarding CMV safety, health or security conditions. The anti-coercion provision gives the Secretary of Transportation authority to prescribe regulations to ensure that a CMV driver is not forced to operate a CMV in violation of federal safety regulations. The Memorandum provides for the exchange of safety, coercion and retaliation allegations that are received by one agency, but are under the purview of the other agency, and sets forth the process for doing so.

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