Yesterday was one of those occasions when I wish that my predictions had been inaccurate. I have speculated that the SEIU and other unions harassing fast food restaurants would eventually add mass OSHA complaints to their joint employer, discrimination, living wage, and other attacks. Yesterday, you probably saw the articles about “Fight for $5’s” coordinated effort to file OSHA Complaints in 19 cities.
This is the first post of a several part series which will deal with OSHA concerns for distributors, including OSHA ergonomic citation efforts. The distributor’s biggest OSHA compliance challenges are routine items. Once the distributor is cited for one of these common violations, this violation may serve as the basis for a “Repeat” OSHA citation of up to $70,000 for five years at any of the employer’s locations in any other Fed-OSHA state. If the distributor has multiple locations, there is a substantial risk that a common error may occur in this five year period. That’s why many relatively safe retailer chains have recently been receiving six-figure OSHA citations.
On July 15, 2014, Thomas Galassi, OSHA’s Director of Enforcement Programs, released a memorandum addressed to all OSHA regional administrators regarding OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative—a program developed to increase the agency’s focus on the safety of temporary workers. The purpose of the memo was to clarify the responsibilities of staffing agencies and host employees and to remind OSHA field staff of the enforcement policy with respect to temporary workers.
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.