OSHA: Administrative court sets precedent

Request for enterprise-wide hazard abatement by employer to proceed to trial

Posted December 31, 2015

On December 23, OSHA announced an Administrative Law judge (ALJ) has decided that the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission may have authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to order abatement measures sought by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration beyond the specific violations OSHA identified in its the citations.

OSHA cited the Michigan-based transport company in November 2014 for 14 violations of workplace safety and health standards at the freight hauler's Billerica, Massachusetts, shipping terminal. A total of $330,800 in fines was proposed. The company filed a notice of contest with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in December of that year and litigation commenced.

In its complaint to the commission, the Labor Department alleged that the company failed to comply with the OSHA standards for the safety of powered industrial trucks at locations other than the inspected worksite, and requested an order compelling the company to comply with the powered industrial truck standard at all its locations. The company then filed a motion asking the commission to strike the department's claim for enterprise-wide abatement, arguing that the Occupational Safety and Health Act does not permit it.

The ALJ denied the company’s motion, holding that the Occupational Safety and Health Act's provision authorizing the remedy of "other appropriate relief" provides the basis for allowing the department's claim for enterprise-wide abatement, at all locations where like violations exist, to proceed to trial. The ALJ also denied the company’s request for a discovery and litigation stay of the claim for enterprise-wide abatement, finding that such a stay would jeopardize the litigation of the department's claim for enterprise-wide abatement.


1910 OSHA GuideOSHA Rules for General Industry: 1910 and Other Essential Regulations puts OSHA’s workplace safety regulations in a reader-friendly format.

 

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