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Workplace Safety and Health Law Blog

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.

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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