Periodic updates of topics of interest

April 12, 2020

UPDATE – Recording COVID-19 Infections on OSHA 300 Logs

You do not have to record possible COVID-19 infections on OSHA 300 logs unless the known or reasonably ascertainable facts demonstrate: (1) the worker has a confirmed COVID-19 case; (2) the confirmed COVID-19 infection is work-related (i.e. the infection occurred at work); and (3) the work-related COVID-19 infection resulted in lost work days, restricted duty, death, or medical care beyond first aid.
March 14, 2020

Forklifts & Selective Racking Systems. How Sturdy Does Your Racking System Need To Be?

The Commission will soon have occasion to consider the extent to which employers must ensure stored product remains stable upon accidental contact by forklifts. As things stand, employers should ensure that pallets and stacked product are able to withstand accidental “bumps” from powered industrial trucks. Moreover, employers should create work rules removing employees from the loading/unloading area.
February 8, 2020

Reliance on Specialty and Expert Contractors for OSHA Compliance Must Be Reasonable.

Employers are entitled to rely on expert or specialty contractors to ensure compliance with OSHA standards—but only when that reliance is reasonable. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently clarified that reliance is not reasonable when the employer—by way of expertise, control, and time—should foresee danger to its employees. 
January 22, 2020

The Commission Regains Its Quorum.

The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has a full panel again. Because it now has a “quorum”, or the minimum number of commissioners needed to take official action, the Commission will begin working through the backlog of OSHA cases on its docket. This is good news for stakeholders in the OSHA enforcement scheme. The Commission provides helpful clarity, guidance, and interpretation—even when it rules against the employer—which enables employers to better understand their safety obligations.
January 12, 2020

Ninth Circuit Applies Kisor v. Wilkie, Clarifies Employer’s Obligation to Monitor Respiratory Hazards.

An appeals court recently clarified an employer's obligation to monitor respiratory hazards. Employers must evaluate the workplace for respiratory hazards whenever there is the potential for overexposure of employees to contaminants. Significantly, the appeals court applied the Supreme Court’s Kisor v. Wilkie decision, which purports to limit OSHA’s discretion in interpreting its own regulations, to an OSHA regulation for the first time.
December 28, 2019

Using Powered Industrial Trucks? Lifting Heavy Objects? Make Sure Your Employees Have Steel-Toed Shoes!

If your employees lift heavy items or are on foot in the proximity of power-industrial vehicles (such as electric pallet jacks), then it is a good idea to require steel-toed shoes.
December 14, 2019

REMINDER: OSHA Can and Will Cite Employers for Willful Violations of the General Duty Clause.

OSHA can cite employers for willful violations of the general duty clause—and will do so with little hesitation following fatalities and catastrophes. Safety Managers should actively monitor and critically evaluate obvious and glaring hazards, and consider formalized training on safe work practices related to those hazards.
November 21, 2019

Strong mailroom procedures gives employer second chance to contest $70,000.00 in penalties and a willful citation.

Reliable mail handing procedures might save you from an untimely notice of contest. Every employer should create dependable mail routing procedures that ensure mail promptly reaches the appropriate decision-maker. Even with a steady track-record of timely-filed contests, you will want evidence that your internal mail procedures are such that employees losing the mail is a one-off unforeseeable error.