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Workplace Safety and Health Law Blog

Posts in lock-out.

Third edition of my effort to summarize certain important employment law, OSHA, and labor developments, news and practical insight. I also include references to books and podcasts that you may find useful in becoming a better manager and addressing labor and employment challenges, as well as personal development. This week's edition has three pages of comments from readers and interviews in Part 2.

Every week we see reports of amputations and deaths or OSHA Press Releases about big dollar penalties relating to guarding, lock-out and training. Should we conclude that many employers don’t care or that employees themselves are usually at fault? Probably not.

 

It's not that easy for OSHA to make out citations based on musculoskeletal disorder hazards because OSHA does not have an ergonomic standard. OSHA will take a shot at certain industries, especially the poultry industry. Read the OSHA News Release below for an idea of what OSHA looks for when it's on the ergonomic hunt. And of course, this is an OSHA Press Release, so we don't know if the hazards existed or other facts.

Let’s be honest. Many of us object to any expansion of OSHA workplace injury recordkeeping because it’s burdensome, doesn’t help develop a safety culture, and we expect the Administration to misuse the data. That said, there are some good aspects of OSHA’s proposed Final Rule, and some of the worry is unfounded.

Auto Dealers Should Relax.

Our first client back in the 1940s was an auto dealer, so we at Fisher Phillips are fond of and track the ...

You have probably heard lawyers grump that “bad facts make bad law.” This growl means that unusually egregious facts may cause a jury to rule for a plaintiff where the law does not actually favor them. Similarly, it only takes a few unusual workplace fatalities or a recalcitrant employer to bring an industry to the top of OSHA’s list. As an example, while I believe that OSHA’s focus on temporary employees was appropriate, this interest was triggered by several cases where a temporary employee was killed on the first day of work.

In our competitive environment, every manufacturer struggles to do more with less and to find capital for “nonproduction” areas, such as maintenance, safety, training, housekeeping and HR. If done in a shortsighted fashion, the employer learns through painful experience the sacred law of “unintended consequences.” Plant Engineering magazine (yes, a lawyer can read such stuff) ran a brief instructive story on harm to production and profits resulting from gradually shifting almost all maintenance functions to production employees. You’re probably thinking that “I wouldn’t do that,” but many employers have eliminated certain housekeeping workers and relied upon production employees to clean up their area or machine. One of the contributing factors to the deadly Imperial Sugar combustible dust explosion was accumulation of material in work areas … in part because operators were supposed to clean up after their shift, and did not do so.

Although OSHA's Process Safety Management (PSM) standard may be the most challenging of OSHA's regulations, the PSM standard, along with NFPA consensus standards about combustible dust have raised the importance of management of change (MOC) outside of refineries and chemical plants, and for the HR professional.

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