Virginia prides itself on being a business friendly state, and its state OSHA plan is no exception. The Virginia Occupational Safety and Health compliance program (“VOSH”) should be commended for maintaining a robust safety record while keeping employer costs low. As great as VOSH is, it has its administrative quirks, which may catch the unwary employer or litigant off guard. A few of those quirks are discussed below.
Every week we see reports of amputations and deaths or OSHA Press Releases about big dollar penalties relating to guarding, lock-out and training. Should we conclude that many employers don’t care or that employees themselves are usually at fault? Probably not.
I write a fair amount about employers’ duties to ensure that their workers classified as “temporary employees” be treated the same with regard to safety as their full time or so-called “permanent” employees. Hazards do not distinguish between an employee’s status. A fall hazard or unguarded chain will harm a temporary employee as much as it will harm a full time employee. Therefore, employers should involve these non-routine employees in the same safety meetings and training as full time employees. Temps should receive the same PPE as full time employees. If the temps are present long enough, they must participate in hearing protection and respiratory protection programs. This approach combines common sense, ethics and OSHA compliance.
I thoroughly enjoyed my seven years as a Scoutmaster in an inner city housing project. The boys were poor and few of them had a dad at home, but they were good kids. Given decent examples, assistance, and a bit of luck, they could escape what had become a multigenerational cycle of poverty. However, despite being poor, these boys had been raised by their moms as little princes with no requirements placed on them. In other words, they were pretty much the same as overly entitled kids.
The Administration’s seemingly endless Executive Orders are requiring employers to respond to numerous new requirements affecting safety, wages and EEO matters. Because the same company managers may have to deal with all three issues, we will periodically cover government contractor duties other than safety-related obligations.