Workplace Safety and Health Law Blog | Fisher & Phillips LLP
News, commentary and legal updates from Fisher & Phillips attorneys who
assist employers with workplace safety and health matters.

More Dope On OSHA's New Weighted Inspection Process

November 18, 2015 13:16
by Howard Mavity
We updated you about OSHA’s new Weighted Inspection Program in our October 3 post, “What’s the Real Effect of OSHA’s Revamped Inspection Process, the Enforcement Weighing System?”   A BNA piece tonight summed up the processes’ effect: The new measurement method—the “enforcement weighting system”—has replaced the OSHA practice of simply counting inspections and assigning each inspection the same degree of importance when measu...


There’s More Enforcement Overlap Between Federal OSHA and State Plans Than You Think

November 17, 2015 01:12
by Travis Vance
One of the fascinating things about an OSHA citation defense practice is the distinctions you see in prosecution by Federal OSHA versus state plans. It is very unusual in the legal world to have the same laws enforced by different governing bodies. OSHA litigation is just that. Our workplace safety group’s time is split evenly between defending clients against citations in one of the 24 or so approved state plans and the Federal OSHA states. I really don’t have a favorite between th...

So How Does OSHA Raise Penalties 82% and We Don’t Notice?

November 3, 2015 15:00
by Howard Mavity
A lot of us woke up on November 3 and exclaimed, “What the heck!  How did that happen?”  The Budget Agreement signed on November 2, which was worked out behind closed doors, includes provisions authorizing OSHA to increase penalties for the first time since Bush I, fifteen years ago, by as much as 50% to 82%.  Yep.  50% to 82%. It’s not clear whether OSHA will choose to increase penalties to the full extent allowed, but the Agreement authorizes OSHA to ma...


October 28, 2015 07:42
by Howard Mavity
UPDATES FROM EHS TODAY’S SAFETY LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2015     With multiple tracks yesterday, I can only write about a few sessions.  I’ll focus on topics related to OSHA’s priorities and plans as discussed in the sessions dealing with Federal and State OSHA Plan Updates and “OSHA is Serious About Using 5(a)(1) Citations,” which I moderated.   Kurt Petermeyer, the OSHA Region IV Administrator and South Carolina OSHA&rs...


Is the Loss of Vision Reportable Under OSHA’s New Rule?

October 23, 2015 04:38
by Travis Vance
OSHA’s new rule requiring that any work-related amputation, inpatient hospitalization, or loss of an eye be reported within 24 hours has resulted in a drastic increase in the number of inspections initiated as a result of employer referrals. More than a 15 percent increase in referral-based inspections has been seen in some states. In fact, over 5,000 employers nationwide have made reports under the new rule this year despite the fact that some state plans, such as Arizona, have not yet ad...

Would OSHA “Punt” on Inspecting an NFL Team?

October 5, 2015 07:48
by Travis Vance
The tragedy this August that claimed the life of one worker and injured another during construction of the new $1.1B Minnesota Vikings football stadium reminded us that serious accidents can happen at any site no matter the size or cost. As an avid football fan and OSHA lawyer, and with football season just getting started, it also got me thinking about workplace safety issues occurring at professional football stadiums on Sunday afternoons. Could (and would) OSHA actually inspect the “wo...


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What’s the Real Effect of OSHA’s Revamped Inspection Process, the “Enforcement Weighing System?”

October 2, 2015 08:54
by Howard Mavity
On October 1, OSHA started its “Enforcement Weighing System,” which means that OSHA Compliance Officers and Area Offices will be under less pressure to complete a number of inspections and will receive credit for separate “enforcement units” within an individual inspection. This means that potentially OSHA will conduct fewer inspections and/or routine/straightforward inspections will receive less time and scrutiny. Dr. Michaels explained that Industrial Hygienists can con...


Increased Criminal Prosecution of Employers – Part Two – Should You Be Concerned?

September 23, 2015 05:45
by Howard Mavity
Note: This series was prompted by the DOJ’s September 9 “Yates Memo” focusing on increased executive prosecutions and renewed interest by OSHA in criminal actions. We don’t see many employee or consumer safety criminal prosecutions, but when we do see one, people of all political persuasions tend to agree with bringing down the hammer. Anyone disagree with yesterday’s announcement of groundbreaking 28 year sentence for the peanut company CEO whose actions caused ni...

Is OSHA Going to Put You in Jail?

September 13, 2015 08:17
by Howard Mavity
  The answer to my admittedly provocative question is “probably not,” but recent developments demand that employers reconsider criminal exposure under labor laws, including the OSHAct. My partner and fellow OSHA nerd, Ed Foulke and I were struck by the Region IV OSHA Administrator’s statement this week at the Georgia Safety, Health and Environmental Conference that he was the first OSHA Regional Administrator to have met with all of the US Attorneys in the states of his ...

Would You Drop to the Floor If Shooting Broke Out In Your Workplace?

August 31, 2015 12:20
by Howard Mavity
With depressing regularity, we receive calls asking for guidance in evaluating and responding to potential workplace violence threats.  The threats are rarely serious but in this era, one can never ignore concerns.  There are no easy formulas to determine if a threat is genuine.  If you review the factors that may indicate that someone is ripe for workplace violence, you may decide that you fit the bill about mid-morning on a bad Monday.  I’ve written about the signs ...



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