Whatever you may think of this Administration, one has to admire how well OSHA returned to full operations after the government shut down, and the behind the scenes work that made the return seem so seamless. As I wrote earlier and as reported by BNA, EHS and others, a small cadre of OSHA Area and Regional Office personnel did far more than simply respond to fatalities during the shut down. As a result, immediately upon return, OSHA Area Office personnel started dialing employers and advising them that they would treat the shutdown days as Federal holidays and extend the contest period for those cases contested if the parties wanted an Informal Conference. Since the return, we have participated in Informal conferences in Georgia, Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire and elsewhere. I was pleased that in each case, the Area Office was well prepared. Few things more frustrate me than when I extol the virtues of an Informal Conference and then it is obvious that the Office did not even read the file before we arrived, which is a waste of everyone's time. Not once since the return to work have we had this experience. We'll probably try a couple of the cases on which we have met, but not for lack of a spirited and detailed exchange at the Informal. Talk to your counsel, but in most cases, you should take the opportunity for the belated Informal Conference.
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