Employers rarely appreciate how strongly workplace safety affects employee attitudes about the Company or how devastatingly a union or other third party can use safety to destroy a Company's image. Conversely, executives can use a robust safety culture to increase employee satisfaction and productivity ... and it's the right thing to do. Don't allow a third party to use safety issues to destroy your company. This two-part article describes safety-based Corporate campaigns relying on safety and common sense preventive measures.
Part II of our Post on Corporate Campaigns using safety to harm a company's reputation, and in the case of Tesla, compel the Company to give in to Union demands. This part concludes the discussion by describing the variety of attack strategies and proposing commonsense steps to improve one's safety culture and deny a group's ability to destroy your company's reputation using safety as a club.
Employers quite rightly complain about the sheer number, intrusiveness and plain weirdness of California employment laws. However, Cal-OSHA and its regulatory scheme have not been that different from Federal-OSHA regulation. Yes, California requires the Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP), but it’s not that burdensome a task. Cal-OSHA does present more exposure to criminal investigation filing a workplace fatality, but other states are following California’s lead. Traditionally, California has been more rational in its analysis of multi-employer worksites than the Feds or most other states. All this is to say, that we are not “Cal-OSHA bashers.”
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.
Under OSHA’s Contingency Plan, all but approximately 10% of its employees are furloughed. If one calls an Area Office, you’ll encounter an Area Director and perhaps an Assistant Area Director, who respond to workplace fatalities or complaints of situations threatening a high risk of death or serious injury. In some cases, senior compliance officers may be involved. Similarly, the five or six top managers in each region are working. This skeleton crew not only respond to workplace fatalities, but they must also somehow issue citations within the six months of commencing an inspection. Despite the unusual circumstances, as recently as last year, the powerful D.C. Court of Appeals upheld the six-month requirement in AKM v. Secretary of Labor.
I just learned from Fred Walter at Walter & Prince LLP that Ellen Widess has apparently resigned effective immediately from her position as Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and is taking another post. No specific reason was given for her resignation. No press release appears to yet be out, but if accurate, this resignation could meaningfully affect the current approach taken by Cal-OSHA.
OSHA regularly cites retail employers for violations relating to their compactors and balers, many of which are old and ill-maintained. I wish that we could say that deaths involving store contractors are rare, but that would not be true. Please see the recent story below:
REDWOOD City, Calif. -- An employee at a Redwood City Grocery Outlet was killed Thursday night in an accident involving a machine used to compact cardboard for recycling, officials ...
While non-Californians understandably view the California legal system as more complicated and punitive, until recently, upper leadership and a lack of money made Cal-OSHA more reasonable than its written rules suggested. However, Fed-OSHA has continued to push State OSHA Plans to conform with its more punitive approach, and that “push,” combined with a different governor, has resulted in more punitive Cal-OSHA approaches.