Workplace Safety and Health Law Blog

Worrying Challenges in Performing Embedded or Plant Shutdown Work. After 35 years of practice, certain issues keep me awake at night. One concern is about contractors working onsite or embedded in a working plant or other facility. Examples include year-round or shutdown work at power plants, pulp and paper mills, refineries, and other complex operations. These types of operations pose difficult issues involving locking out and eliminating a wide variety of hazards, such as evaluating…
AGC-Willis Towers Watson 2019 Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA) releases annual Safety Best Practices. The Construction industry is fortunate to have numerous stakeholders committed to safety ranging from Craft Unions and groups such as CPWR to Industry Associations such as the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America. Included in that group are Insurers and their Brokers. The alliance between Willis Towers Watson and the AGC has resulted in one of the Country’s most rigorous Business…
OSHA Appoints New Director of Directorate of Construction (DOC). To almost everyone’s delight, OSHA has filled the vital position of the Director of the Directorate of Construction (DOC). The DOC Director position is always challenging to fill. It requires a high degree of construction safety knowledge, as well as a move to D.C., which is not appealing to all OSHA veterans. Scott Ketcham has held multiple leadership roles, including Deputy Director of the DOC since…
Employers have long operated under the premise that the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides the exclusive remedy for workers injured on the job. Indeed, section 97.-10.1 of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act states that employers in compliance with the Act are protected from all other claims and remedies that could be brought by employees, dependents, next of kin, or representatives in the event of a workplace injury or death. Although intentional or willful…
Criminal Charges For OSHA Violations? State Prosecutors Are Taking Increased Interest Most employers are aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can issue monetary penalties for health and safety violations occurring in the workplace. Many employers also know that in particular circumstances, OSHA can issue criminal sanctions. However, what employers may not know is that OSHA has also been referring workplace safety violations to state district attorney offices in fatality cases. A district attorney…
Former OSHA Head Says Contractor Should be Blacklisted For Safety Violations: Can the Government Do That? Harkening back to the “Blacklists” imposed by the Obama administration, Dr. David Michaels, former Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, urged the government to ban a construction contractor from work on public lands in a tweet this week after the company pleaded guilty on charges related to the death of a worker. But can…
What You Need To Know About California’s New Emergency Wildfire Smoke Protection Regulation California has been wrought with devastating wildfires in recent years. Last year, in fact, the state suffered one of its most destructive wildfire seasons ever recorded; there were over 8,500 wildfires and the largest area of acreage was burned. The good news, for now, is that Cal Fire has reported that wildfires are down 90% in 2019. Even with this recent decline,…
Ever wonder what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would do if an employer refused to pay a fine? We just found out, and it’s not just the employer that needs to be concerned. After a New Jersey-based construction company failed for four years to pay $412,000 in penalties that the OSHA assessed against it, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals recently found the President – and only board member – of the company
At the end of July, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) announced the issuance of a Program Policy Letter (“PPL”) to provide mine operators guidance regarding the existing requirement to provide escape ways or refuges at underground metal and nonmetal mines when miners must shelter in place.  The PPL is being issued for public comment prior to being final despite MSHA noting that the PPL is not to be considered rulemaking.  However, MSHA believes…
“Stop the Bleed” – One Sure Step to Lessen Shooting Deaths. “Stop the Bleed” – One Sure Step to Lessen Shooting Deaths. We have long encouraged employers and schools to add a basic Trauma/Stop the Bleeding kit and provide the approximately one-hour of additional first aid training to interested employees. Stop the Bleed is an effort by the American College of Surgeons and numerous other groups to expand battlefield lessons that have saved soldiers shot…