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6288321 2


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6288321 2

  1. 1. What Do We Do When OSHA Comes Knocking? Joseph McCoin Miller & Martin PLLC Chattanooga, Nashville, and Atlanta Offices 423-785-8338 | [email_address]
  2. 2. Structure Of The Occupational Safety And Health Act Of 1970 <ul><ul><li>29 U.S.C. §§ 651-78 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission (“OSHRC”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (“NIOSH”) </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. State OSHA Programs <ul><ul><li>Complete federal preemption of state regulation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concept of State Plans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Federal OSHA (“Fed-OSHA”) must approve the plan (i.e., state plans must be at least &quot;as effective as&quot; Fed-OSHA) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>However, state plans are not required to be identical to Federal OSHA ( e.g. , among other unique regulations, Cal/OSHA has an ergonomics regulation) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. State OSH Plans Covering the Private & Public Sectors NOTE: Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and the Virgin Islands have plans that cover public sector employees only. Fed-OSHA covers private sector employees in these jurisdictions. Wyoming Washington Virginia Vermont Utah Tennessee S. Carolina Puerto Rico Oregon N. Carolina New Mexico Nevada Minnesota Michigan Maryland Kentucky Iowa Indiana Hawaii California Arizona Alaska
  5. 5. OSHA Inspections <ul><ul><li>Four types (by agency priority): </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(1) “Imminent danger”; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(2) Fatality/catastrophe; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(3) Complaint; and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(4) Programmed Inspections </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>- Schedule of inspections based on neutral selection criteria (e.g., injury incidence rates) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>- May include “special emphasis” programs on a particular issue or sector </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. OSHA Inspections <ul><ul><li>OSHA typically responds to anonymous complaints by sending a letter to an employer asking the employer to respond, in writing, to the allegations. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Onsite Inspection Process <ul><ul><li>OSHA personnel are almost always prohibited from giving advance notice of an inspection. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By statute, OSHA is authorized to conduct investigations during “regular working hours and at other reasonable times, and within reasonable limits and in a reasonable manner” once a compliance officer presents his/her credentials. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Onsite Inspection Process <ul><ul><li>You generally have a right to insist upon a search warrant before submitting to an onsite inspection. (This isn’t the case when conditions are public and/or in emergency situations.) However, you need to determine whether it makes sense for your business to exercise this right. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Onsite Inspection Process <ul><ul><li>During the opening conference, you should confirm and/or receive: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>the compliance officer’s credentials; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>the nature, purpose, and scope of the inspection; and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>a copy of the complaint, if any, although a complainant’s name will typically not be disclosed. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Onsite Inspection Process <ul><ul><li>The opening conference is a good opportunity to raise concerns about “trade secrets.” An employer may identify areas in the facility that contain trade secrets. Typically, the compliance officer will not contest this designation and information from such areas will be treated as confidential by OSHA, preventing the information’s release to other parties via a Freedom of Information Act request or the like. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Onsite Inspection Process <ul><ul><li>Employees and representatives of employees (e.g., union business agents or union stewards) have the right to attend an opening conference. An employer can insist on separate opening conferences, but there’s no real advantage in doing so. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Onsite Inspection Process <ul><ul><li>The opening conference is typically followed by a walkaround inspection based on the scope of the investigation. (The compliance officer may review records before actually touring the facility.) Don’t “walkaround” beyond the scope of the investigation . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Note that an inspection with a limited initial scope (e.g., a “special emphasis” programmed inspection or inspection based on a specific employee complaint) may become broader in scope due to a compliance officer’s observations, employee complaints during the inspection, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Onsite Inspection Process <ul><ul><li>Both an employer representative and an employee representative can participate in the walkaround. Indeed, there may be different representatives for different phases of the inspection. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Just because an employer can participate in the walkaround doesn’t mean that the compliance officer will stop his/her investigation if the employer chooses to do something else. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DON’T LEAVE THE COMPLIANCE </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>OFFICER UNATTENDED </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Onsite Inspection Process <ul><ul><li>The compliance officer can take photos, videotape employees, use sampling kits, and use any other reasonable investigative technique. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try to duplicate what the compliance officer does (i.e., take the same pictures, notes, videos, etc.). </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Onsite Inspection Process <ul><ul><li>The compliance officer has the right to request one-on-one interviews with employees about safety conditions. Employees may refuse such a request if they are not under subpoena. Employees can also end an interview at any time or object to signing a statement or having the conversation recorded. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Even under subpoena, OSHA’s interview privilege does not trump an employee’s right to an attorney, so employees may insist on having legal counsel present. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Closing Conference <ul><ul><ul><li>Identify problem areas </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Probable areas of citation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Alleged violations </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Abatement </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Overview of Penalties </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Advise about rights to appeal </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Issuance of Citations <ul><ul><li>Describe alleged violation with sufficient notice to employers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Propose the abatement period </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Recommend abatement method if a general duty clause violation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Classify the alleged violation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Propose monetary penalties </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Classifications of Citations <ul><ul><ul><li>Willful </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Conscious disregard of OSHA requirements </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Plain indifference to employee safety and health </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Penalties up to $70,000 per instance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Egregious multiplier </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Classifications of Citations <ul><ul><li>Repeat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Substantially similar violation on record; or violation of same standard </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Three-year compliance record </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Penalties up to $70,000 </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Classifications of Citations <ul><ul><li>Serious </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assumes, that, if accident occurs, there is substantial probability of death or serious physical injury </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Penalties up to $7,000 </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Classifications of Citations <ul><ul><ul><li>Failure-to-Abate </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cited violation never corrected </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Final order on record </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Penalties up to $7,000 per day </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Classifications of Citations <ul><ul><ul><li>Non-Serious/Other Than Serious </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assumes that, if accident occurs, death or serious physical injury is unlikely </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Penalties up to $7,000 </li></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Classifications of Citations <ul><ul><ul><li>De minimis </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lack direct relationship to safety or health </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No impact on compliance history </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No penalties </li></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Employer Responses to OS&H Citations <ul><ul><ul><li>Comply </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Request Informal Conference </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Notice of Contest </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Proactive Steps <ul><li>Have a safety plan and a knowledgeable person responsible for that plan </li></ul><ul><li>Have good record-keeping data </li></ul><ul><li>Grab the low-hanging fruit </li></ul>
  26. 26. Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards in Fiscal Year 2008 <ul><li>Scaffolding, general requirements, construction ( 29 CFR 1926.451 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Fall protection, construction ( 29 CFR 1926.501 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Hazard communication standard, general industry ( 29 CFR 1910.1200 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry ( 29 CFR 1910.147 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Respiratory protection, general industry ( 29 CFR 1910.134 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry ( 29 CFR 1910.305 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Powered industrial trucks, general industry ( 29 CFR 1910.178 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Ladders, construction ( 29 CFR 1926.1053 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Machines, general requirements, general industry ( 29 CFR 1910.212 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry ( 29 CFR 1910.303 ) </li></ul>
  27. 27. Top 10 Standards For Which OSHA Assessed the Highest Penalties in Fiscal Year 2008 <ul><li>Fall protection, construction ( 29 CFR 1926.501 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Scaffolding, general requirements, construction ( 29 CFR 1926.451 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Electrical, hazardous (classified) locations ( 29 CFR 1910.307 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry ( 29 CFR 1910.147 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Excavations, requirements for protective systems, construction ( 29 CFR 1926.652 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Machines, general requirements, general industry ( 29 CFR 1910.212 ) </li></ul><ul><li>General duty clause ( Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act ) </li></ul><ul><li>Powered industrial trucks, general industry ( 29 CFR 1910.178 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Walking-working surfaces, general requirements ( 29 CFR 1910.22 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals ( 29 CFR 1910.119 ) </li></ul>