January 15, 2010

Employers can expect a new emphasis on enforcement from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the Obama Administration.  Here’s why:

  • OSHA’s acting chief, Jordan Barab has a background in enforcement. Mr. Barab has worked in government and provided consulting services to the AFL-CIO health and safety department.
  • Jordan Barab has indicated a willingness to revisit the controversial topic of ergonomic hazards through the use of the “General Duty Clause.” Businesses can expect more ergonomic inspections and enforcement citations will follow.
  • OSHA’s budget has been increased 9.9 percent. With these additional monies OSHA plans to hire 130 new OSHA inspectors to boost enforcement.
  • M. Patricia Smith, who was nominated to serve as Labor Department Solicitor headed up State of New York’s Labor Department and has pledged to bring a philosophy of “proactive enforcement” to OSHA.

For more information on the new emphasis on enforcement at OSHA please see:http://coloradorea.org/documents/OSHAUPDATE.doc andhttp://www.kiplinger.com/businessresource/forecast/archive/osha_moves_aggressively_under_obama_090714.html

At Hessian & McKasy, P.A. we routinely advise our business clients on state and federal OSHA matters including defense of enforcement actions. Many of our clients have implemented worker health and safety programs that include periodic audits of workplace safety issues. These audits, which are typically conducted under the attorney client privilege, are completed by independent third parties. Our environmental attorneys are involved in reviewing findings and recommendations. We advise clients as to corrective measures that should be implemented and other appropriate responses to issues identified in the audit.

There are a number of benefits to devoting time and resources on an audit of workplace safety. First, in many cases issues can be identified and corrected before any injury occurs. Second, in cases where an injury has occurred, equipment and processes can be studied. Corrective measures can be implemented so that problematic issues do not recur. Third, when management and employees are committed to the process of continuous improvement, injuries and claims can be significantly reduced. The results are satisfying all around. In addition to protecting their workers, businesses can help their bottom line. Workers compensation claims can be substantially reduced. In the end, workers are healthy and productive and the business can operate in a productive manner.

For more information on OSHA and worker health and safety issues and Hessian & McKasy’s audit practice, please contact our environmental law attorney Joseph Maternowski, who serves as Chair of Hessian & McKasy’s Environmental Law Attorney Practice Group atjmaternowski@hessianmckasy.com. To address our client’s needs, we provide innovative legal service packages.  Please visit http://www.enviroattorney.net/sample-price-list.php to learn more.

The views expressed here are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, Hessian & McKasy, P.A.

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