In September, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a draft report criticizing OSHA for not having appropriate controls in place to ensure employers report severe injuries and abate hazards. The September OIG report recommended to OSHA that the agency develop formal guidance and train staff on how to detect and prevent underreporting, consistently issue citations for late reporting, clarify some of its guidance and emphasize the need to conduct inspections for all incidents classified as Category 1.

OSHA pushed back on OIG in its response stating that it is not OSHA’s responsibility to ensure employer’s report injuries, rather it is an employer’s responsibility to do so and that there is no requirement for employers to abate hazards as part of the reporting of severe injuries.

In a separate report issued last month, Top Management and Performance Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Labor, OIG again criticized the agency for failing to ensure that employers correct hazards when they report severe injuries to OSHA.

“OSHA needs to complete its initiatives to improve employer reporting of severe injuries and illness, and enhance staff training on abatement verification, especially of smaller and transient construction employers. OSHA also needs to complete the development of its evaluation and analysis program.”

OSHA maintains that the only obligation on an employer is to report the appropriate severe injury within the timeframes required by the standard and that there is nothing requiring employers to provide evidence of the abatement of hazards.

 

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Photo of Tressi L. Cordaro Tressi L. Cordaro

Tressi L. Cordaro is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis. She advises and represents employers on occupational safety and health matters before federal and state OSHA enforcement agencies. She has advised employers faced with willful and serious citations as the result of catastrophic events and fatalities, including citations involving multi-million dollar penalties. Ms. Cordaro’s approach to representing an employer cited by OSHA is to seek an efficient resolution of contested citations, reserving litigation as the option if the client’s business objectives cannot otherwise be achieved. As a result, she has secured OSHA withdrawals of citations without the need for litigation.

Ms. Cordaro’s unique experience with government agencies involved in OSHA enforcement enables her to provide employers with especially insightful guidance as to how regulators view OSHA compliance obligations, and evaluate contested cases.

Ms. Cordaro served as the Presidentially-appointed Legal Counsel and Special Advisor to the past Chairman and Commissioner Horace A. Thompson, III at the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission (OSHRC) in Washington, DC, the agency that adjudicates contested federal OSHA citations. As the Commissioner’s chief counsel, Ms. Cordaro analyzed all cases presented to the OSHRC and advocated the Commissioner’s position during decisional meetings.

In addition, Ms. Cordaro worked at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration developing OSHA standards, regulations and enforcement and compliance policies, with emphasis on the construction industry. She has in-depth experience on technical issues including, in particular, issues related to cranes and derricks in construction.

Ms. Cordaro received a Bachelor of Science from Old Dominion University in 1997 and earned her Juris Doctor degree from Whittier Law School in 2001. In 2005, she was selected for U.S. Secretary of Labor’s Exceptional Achievement Award for work done with Cranes & Derricks Negotiated Rulemaking.