OSHA watch

Deadline for anti-retaliation provisions in recordkeeping rule delayed to November 1

Originally planned for August 10, the enforcement of the provisions related to anti-retaliation in the recordkeeping rule have been delayed to November 1 to give the agency more time to conduct outreach efforts and provide guidance.

The recordkeeping rule will require the following anti-retaliation actions:

  • Employers must inform workers about their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without the threat of retaliation.
  • Employers must implement reasonable procedures for reporting injuries and illnesses that do not discourage workers from speaking up.
  • Employers must incorporate existing anti-retaliation rules into their practices.

While eight industry groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the controversial Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses electronic recordkeeping rule, it is going to be a long process and employers should ensure they are in compliance with the first provisions scheduled to take effect Nov. 1.

Settlement reached with US Steel on injury reporting requirements

As we reported in earlier eNewsletters, the Labor Department (DOL) brought a suit against Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp in mid-February seeking to reverse disciplinary actions against two employees for failing to immediately report workplace injuries in accordance with company policy. The DOL and union maintained that the effect of the policy was to discourage injury reporting and to retaliate against workers who did report.

A settlement was reached last month establishing a new company-wide policy that provides for reporting only after an individual is aware of an injury. It establishes a similarly reasonable policy for reporting incidents like near misses. It also rescinds the discipline issued to the three complainants and provides them full back pay with interest.

Employers have some success in negotiating fines, but settlements more difficult

According to a June report by the Washington-based Center for Progressive Reform, employers that admit guilt and agree to immediately correct hazards are often successful in reducing the fines during informal settlement talks. The group attributes this practice to budgetary constraints and limits on the agency’s authority.

However, it is not as easy as it was in the past. Since 2010, reductions above 30% require the approval of Regional Administrators. Area Directors may agree to reduce the fine, but generally will not withdraw all citations or downgrade willful or repeat citations with the highest penalties. Moreover, it’s important for a company to consider the implications of accepting the citation, which can lead to more costly repeat fines in the future.

Fact sheets on combustible dust, farm emergencies

New resources

  • Safety guidance on the deadly combination of tree care work and electricity 
    A new pamphlet intended for small business owners and front-line supervisors offers measures to ensure that workers know and are prepared for the risks of tree-trimming operations near sources of electricity. (Spanish version)
  • QuickCards offer guidance on protecting outdoor workers from Zika virus 
    English 
    Spanish

Watch list

  • Rule on walking/working surfaces expected in August
  • Potential regulatory standard aimed at reducing fatalities and injuries in the tree care industry under consideration

Recent fines and awards

Georgia

  • A follow up inspection of Chaparral Boats Inc. of Nashville resulted in one repeated violation for exposing employees to dust particulates above the permissible exposure limit and two serious safety violations. Proposed fines: $47,000.
  • MMC Construction LLC of Dacula, a masonry contractor, was cited for exposing workers to fall risks on scaffolding. The company has been cited for violations of the construction scaffold standard in six inspections in the last five years. Proposed fines: $130,500.

Massachusetts

  • James T. Lynch Construction Co. Inc. of Andover faces $65,000 in penalties for exposing employees to cave-in hazards.

Michigan

  • Dearborn Heights School District was ordered to pay $193,000 to a janitor who was punished for warning of asbestos exposures.

Minnesota

  • Syring Trucking Inc. of Hazel Run faces $175,000 in penalties related to violations of confined spaces regulations.
  • Following a fatal fall at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Mortenson Construction Co. and subcontractor Berwald Roofing Company face $173,400 in fines for failure to provide fall protection and to protect workers.

Missouri

  • Multiple hazards related to dangerous machinery, chemicals and other hazards were found at a Kansas City auto parts manufacturing facility, Challenge Manufacturing. Proposed fines: $75,000.

Nebraska

  • An inspection initiated under the Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling hazards, found New Alliance of Bridgeport exposing workers to grain, noise, and fall hazards. Proposed penalties for the 17 violations are $61,000.

New York

  • RWS Manufacturing Inc. of Queensbury faces $197,000 in fines for failing to correct combustible dust hazards, allowing recurring fire, explosion, and fall hazards.
  • Tonawanda Coke of Buffalo was cited for repeat and serious safety violations after an employee died while servicing an operating coal elevator. Proposed fines: $175,200.
  • Judge upholds citations and $249,000 in penalties against Flintlock Construction Services LLC of Mamaroneck for scaffold hazards at Manhattan hotel construction site.

Pennsylvania

  • Nation’s leading pallet company, Houston-based IFCO Services, agrees to pay fired worker, who reported mold hazards, $105,000 for retaliation.
  • The sexual assault of a home health care worker has resulted in a willful citation against AndVenture Inc. dba Epic Health Services of York, one of the nation’s leading providers of pediatric home health and therapy services for medically frail and chronically ill children, after it failed to protect its employees properly from the dangers of workplace violence. Proposed fines: $98,000.

Texas

  • Corpus Christi steam methane reformer, Air Liquide Large Industries US LP, was cited for failing to perform air monitoring to assess employee exposure to carbon monoxide gas and failing to protect workers from a potentially hazardous atmosphere. The complaint-driven inspection resulted in fines of $77,000.
  • Oil and gas equipment manufacturer, Exterran Energy Solutions LP, and a local staffing company face $120,000 in fines for a combined 34-safety violation related to unguarded machinery, fall protection, and confined space hazards.
  • L&M Bag and Supply Company Inc., doing business as L&M Supply Company Inc. of San Marcos, a landscaping products manufacturer, was fined $66,000 for repeat and serious violations after complaints of unsafe working conditions.
  • Architectural woodworking manufacturer Terrill Manufacturing Company Inc. of San Angelo, racked up $63,600 in serious violations after several complaints sparked an investigation. The fines relate to failure to establish lockout/tagout procedures and provide safety guards among other violations. A staffing agency, Spherion Staffing, which provided temporary workers, also received two serious violations.
  • Johns Manville of Cleburne was cited for unclear energy control procedures and unguarded machinery when an employee suffered a hand amputation. Proposed fines: $49,600.
  • S.J. Louis Construction of Texas LTD, an underground utility contractor, was fined $52,000 for exposing workers to repeat, and serious excavation hazards.

Wisconsin

  • A Waupaca company, Alliance Industries Inc., lacked proper precautions for using sulfur dioxide at its foundry core manufacturing and metal coating facility. Proposed fines: $41,580.

Detailed descriptions of the citations above and other OSHA citations can be found here.

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.PremiumReductionCenter.com

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