Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and Workplace Disasters
Attorneys in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and Workplace Disasters Practice Group assist clients in complying with federal and state occupational safety and health laws and regulations and in responding to work-related injuries, illnesses and other catastrophic events. The scope of our OSHA representation ranges from routine counseling, to involvement in the inspection process by OSHA agents, and to litigation before the OSHA state and federal judicial tribunals. We also oversee the legal aspects of responding to workplace disasters and the litigation associated with them. Specifically, our experience includes:
- Assisting clients through all stages of OSHA inspections, from the initial conference through the closing conference;
- Providing on-site disaster response to coordinate legal issues regarding root-cause analysis, third-party inquiries and possible litigation;
- Litigating non-subscriber plan work-related injuries or injuries covered by Workers' Compensation insurance;
- Litigating third-party negligence claims;
- Developing and revising general industry and construction worksite OSHA compliance programs. We have drafted comprehensive safety manuals and prepared policies on various state and federal OSHA regulations, including emergency response plans (means of egress), hazard communication, process safety management, noise conservation, respiratory protection, fitness for duty, bloodborne pathogens, machinery and machine guarding, lockout/tagout, confined spaces, general environmental controls, and several others;
- Reviewing OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements. In February 2011, OSHA issued the Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry directive. We have designed a training program on the new PPE regulations and the legal obligations surrounding them with OSHA’s new guidelines.
- Reviewing OSHA recordkeeping and reporting requirements. On January 19, 2001, OSHA published new recordkeeping regulations to improve the system employers use to track and record workplace injuries and illnesses. We assist clients with existing recordkeeping protocols for compliance and train management on recordkeeping and reporting obligations;
- Training employees and management on OSHA regulations and their requirements. Matthew Deffebach has completed the Department of Labor course and is an Authorized OSHA General Industry Trainer for Safety and Health Standards;
- Developing proper abatement methods for addressing OSHA citations. If the employer neither contests a citation nor enters into an informal settlement conference, the employer must pay the penalty and abate the hazard(s) by the citation abatement date;
- Applying for variances from state and federal OSHA regulations;
- Handling Section 11(c) whistleblower complaints. Federal OSHA protects employees generally from retaliation if they lodge complaints concerning possible violations of OSHA standards; and
- Litigating federal and state OSHA enforcement actions from initial stages, in discovery, through the trial, and upon appeal.
We have been retained within hours of workplace fatalities and other catastrophic events to assist with a privileged investigation into the underlying events surrounding the disaster. We coordinate matters with responding to the press, preparing company representatives for interviews by various government agencies and generally preparing for potential litigation. In other matters, we have acted as litigation counsel on various negligence, non-subscriber and Workers' Compensation claims.
In the OSHA context, we have handled numerous litigation matters before both the federal Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (“OSHRC”) and its state equivalents. We are national OSHA counsel for a large retailer and often appear in venues across the county on behalf of this and several other clients. We have handled numerous contested citation cases through our collective experience, with several being resolved at trial by the ALJ or thereafter by the Review Commission or equivalent state judicial bodies. Clients have retained us for matters before federal or state OSHA entities in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. A sampling of our victories can be found through the “Representative Experience” link on this page.