DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Angelique Sanders

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with regulations from OSHA, NFPA, and other safety codes. Find out about other companies' best and worst practices. We scour the internet to provide you with helpful training resources and the latest safety information.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Safety News Briefs - OSHA Fine Increased

A regular news feature summarizing workplace safety related news.

We scan newspapers, magazines and the internet for safety news that isn't being reported elsewhere. The following are links to safety-related news and articles that came out during the past week. If you have safety news, or safety tips, send them to: duralabelpro@gmail.com.

Chemical Industry Rebuffs CSB Chair’s Criticism

Should the principles behind "inherently safer technology" be mandated for the chemical industry? On their web site the American Chemical Society defines "inherently safer industrial technologies" this way:

"While many industrial processes and sectors use various definitions of this term, collectively, they capture a group of processes and technologies that improve safety by greatly reducing or eliminating hazards through a permanent and inseparable element of the process. Thus, safety is built into the process, not added on, and hazards are reduced or eliminated, not simply controlled."

In an editorial in the NY Times Rafael Moure-Eraso (chair of the US Chemical Safety Board), called for tougher regulations to be applied to the chemical industry.  Cal Dooley, the head of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), wrote an editorial in response in which he rejected the CSB call for regulations that mandate the principles behind "inherently safer technology".

An article in TCE Today reports:

"'Inherently safer approaches are already considered by companies,' Dooley wrote. 'But mandating them is impractical and would create a regulatory requirement that has been recognized by one official of the Environmental Protection Agency as monumentally difficult.'"

Read the full article here.

Utah Supreme Court Rejects Utah OSHA's Multi-Employer Citation Policy

The Courthouse News Service reports that:

"Utah employers are responsible only for the workplace safety of their own employees, not those of subcontractors, the state Supreme Court ruled."

OSHA's Directive CPL 2-1.124 states that in addition to the employer who is responsible for the hazard, and the employer who is responsible for correcting the hazard, and the employer who exposed workers to the hazard, the controlling employer may be cited. The controlling employer is defined as:  

"An employer who has general supervisory authority over the worksite, including the power to correct safety and health violations itself or require others to correct them. Control can be established by contract or, in the absence of explicit contractual provisions, by the exercise of control in practice."

The Utah Supreme Court ruling applies in Utah only. Utah operates its own safety program that is not a part of the national OSHA.

Read the story in Courthouse News Service.

Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Increases OSHA Fine

In most cases, upon review, OSHA fines are reduced.  In a recent decision an administrative law judge (ALJ) of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) increased an OSHA fine.

In a post in April 2012 I reported that MVP Piping had been cited by OSHA with proposed fines of $45,000.  Following an initial hearing, Administrative Law Judge Sharon D. Calhoun affirmed the citations but assessed a $1,000 penalty for the serious citation and a $7,000 penalty for the willful citation.  This was a reduction in the total fine from $45,000 to $8,000.

OSHA then claimed that the reduction in the penalty was not appropriate. In the recently announced decision the $7,000 willful citation was increased to $22,000. The decision stated:

"Our consideration of the remaining penalty factors support assessing a penalty near the statutory minimum. As to history, the assistant area director testified only that MVP had not been inspected by OSHA within the past five years. The record also reflects that MVP has fewer than 25 employees, but establishes that MVP’s foreman abdicated his safety responsibilities by relying on the acquiescence of the third-party engineering company to his “safety plan.”

"The foreman also acted improperly in relying on his employees to tell him if they felt safe enough to be in the excavation without cave-in protection, a fact which the judge failed to take into account."

"Based on all of the evidence in the record and having considered the statutory penalty factors, we find that $22,000 is an appropriate penalty for this willful citation."

You can read the decision here.

Related past posts:
Safety News Briefs - What To Expect From OSHA In 2014
Safety News Briefs - Can An Employee Sue Their Supervisor
Safety New Briefs - Never Assume Compliance With OSHA Standards

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posted by Steve Hudgik
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