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North Carolina law requires employers with a workers’ compensation experience rate modifier (“ERM”) of 1.5 or higher to “establish and carry out a safety and health program to reduce or eliminate hazards and to prevent injuries and illnesses to employees.”  Not just any program, however, will comply with the statutory requirements. 

April 28, 2019 is World Day for Safety and Health at Work. Fisher Phillips proudly celebrates the safety of all workers with our clients.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), employers have a right to be given the opportunity to accompany an OSHA compliance safety and health officer (CSHO) during an inspection of the workplace.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has conducted an inspection of your plant after one of your employees amputated part of his finger trying to clean around a sprocket with the machine still running.  OSHA issues a serious citation to your company for a machine guarding violation. 

An accident happens at your workplace, and an employee is injured.  During the hectic response, incorrect information funnels its way up to the safety director or person charged with notifying OSHA of reportable injuries and accidents, and that person is told that it looks like the employee’s finger has been amputated or is admitted for in-patient hospitalization.  Attempting to meet the statutory deadline, the safety director then reports to OSHA that an amputation or in-patient hospitalization has occurred. 

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity. Motor vehicle crashes are responsible for more worker fatalities than any other cause, including machine guarding and lock-out tag-out violations.

An accident happens and an employee is seriously injured and admitted to the hospital.  Not only does the company need to conduct an investigation into what happened, but it must report the injury to OSHA as well.  During its own investigation, the company discovers that its manager or supervisor caused the accident by failing to lock out the machine where the employee was injured—in direct contravention to his training and company policy.  The company fires the manager or supervisor for his actions. 

Employers will be facing higher penalties from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“Fed-OSHA”) in 2019. On January 15, 2019, Fed-OSHA announced that it plans to increase the maximum penalty an employer can be issued for serious and other than serious citations to $13,260, and the highest amount that can be issued for repeat and willful violations to $132,598. Fed-OSHA’s announcement regarding the increases can be found here: https://www.osha.gov/penalties/2019InflationAdjustments.pdf and a chart containing all increases by the agency is below:

With the threat of a partial government shutdown looming on December 21, employers are left wondering which government agencies will be impacted if the shutdown occurs. Presently, departments in the following areas will be impacted by a partial government shutdown: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Independent agencies like NASA and the Food and Drug Administration will also be restricted to essential personnel.

While it is not comparable to David Letterman’s Top 10 lists, at a recent industry gathering, OSHA announced its annual top 10 violations for fiscal year 2018 (October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018).  For those who have followed these lists in past years, there is a substantial amount of overlap but also new standards that have not made the list in the past. 

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