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Roofing Contractor

Lakeland, Florida

Thank you for the great advice and for getting our citation resolved.

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West Park, Florida

I just can’t thank you enough for the work you did and the negotiation you undertook on my behalf. I will highly recommend your company to everyone I can in the construction field. Thanks again.

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Roofing Contractor

Lakeland, Florida

I want to personally thank you for everything that you did to assist me during the recent OSHA investigation. With your help, the whole process has been easier to accomplish!

Contractor

San Antonio, Texas

Thanks for the great advice and for getting our citation resolved.

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Fort Myers, Florida

I was in a bad spot when I reached out to you, and I am very thankful for your direction during the aftermath.

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Orlando, Florida

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Recent Announcements

OSHA Update: New Members Selected to the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to improve employee safety in the workplace by enforcing a bevy of rules and regulations. The central goal of OSHA is to ensure safe working conditions for American workers through enforcement, training, education, and assistance.

As an agency of the United States Department of Labor (DOL), OSHA’s presence is constantly felt in the construction industry, which experiences the most work-related injuries and fatalities. Contractors must keep a close eye on OSHA’s shifting rules and regulations to ensure compliance at all times. This can be easier said than done, but an OSHA defense lawyer can provide the services you need to prevent costly citations. 

Recently, the DOL designated 12 members to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH). Four of these members were selected by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). The objective of these appointments is to better represent occupational health and safety, labor, management, and public interests. In this article, we’ll cover these new appointees and discuss the potential effect on contractors.

Occupational Health Representatives

Two of the newly appointed members represent occupational health. Patricia Bertsche, Ph.D., an Occupational Health & Wellness Consultant from PKB Consulting, LLC, was appointed to a two-year term. She was one of four HHS designess. John Lambeth, CIH, CSP, Director, Safety and Health, AFL-CIO, was another one of the four HHS designess. He was selected for a one-year term.

Occupational Safety Representatives

Another two newly appointed members include Michael Belcher, CSP,  the President of SafetyPro, LLC, and Kelli Smith, Occupational Health Director of Cummins, Inc. They were appointed to two-year and one-year terms, respectively. 

Labor Representatives

NACOSH also added two new labor representatives, Robyn Robbins and Steven Sallman. Robyn Robbins is the Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union. Robbins signed on to a one-year term. Steven Sallman, who was appointed to a two-year term, is a Safety and Health Specialist for the Safety & Environment Department of the United Steelworkers (USW).

Management Representatives

New management representatives included Amy Harper, the Deputy Director of the National Safety Council, and William Walkowiak, Director, Occupational Safety Policy and Programs, Office of the Deputy Assistant to the Air Force. Harper was appointed to a one-year term and Walkowiak was appointed to a two-year term.

Public Representatives

Lastly, four new NACOSH public representatives were appointed, including:

  • Mark Friend, CSP, Professor & Interim Dean for the School of Graduate Studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University was selected for a one-year term.
  • Cynthia Lewis, M.S.P.H., ASP, Director of the Gulf Coast Safety Institute. She was the third HHS designee and was selected for a two-year term.
  • Andrew Perkins, CIH, CSP, Senior Industrial Hygienist at the Alabama Power Company. Perkins was the final HHS Designee and was appointed to a one-year term.
  • Anne Soiza, Assistant Director of the Washington Department of Labor and Industries Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Soiza was selected for a two-year term and was designated as chair to NACOSH.

What Do These Appointments Mean for Contractors?

New appointees bring new ideas to the fold. They’re trying to make a name for themselves and build on the work OSHA has done in the past. Contractors can expect a renewed emphasis on worker safety as these new representatives unpack strategies for dealing with work-related injuries and fatalities. If you want to maintain compliance and avoid any OSHA-related issues, consult an OSHA defense lawyer.

If you would like to speak with an OSHA defense attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

OSHA on Vehicle and Heavy Equipment Safety

Among the most fatal of workplace hazards, caught-in/between hazards were responsible for 50 deaths in the construction industry in 2017. The sheer size and difficulty of operating heavy equipment makes them a major cause of caught-in/between fatalities. Below, we discuss how contractors can remain safe around and while operating heavy equipment. For any questions regarding how to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) heavy equipment regulations, consult a Texas OSHA defense lawyer

Heavy Equipment 

Heavy equipment consists of heavy-duty vehicles that are specifically designed to assist with construction tasks. Examples include cranes, forklifts, bulldozers, and backhoes, among many others. Heavy equipment presents a significant danger to on-foot workers in their vicinity. These dangers include: 

  • Electrical Shock (Another of the “Fatal Four”) 
  • Exceeding Speed Limits 
  • Obstructed Driver View
  • Ignored Max Capacity 

How to Protect Your Workers

Protecting those that work around and operate heavy equipment requires constant diligence and care. To begin, only workers who are trained and licensed to use heavy equipment should be permitted to operate them. Second, heavy equipment must be regularly inspected and repaired. No vehicle should see use until it is checked to ensure that it is fully operational. Third, vehicles must never be overloaded, and all loads should be balanced. Contact one of our Texas OSHA defense attorneys for assistance complying with OSHA regulations. 

Traffic Control

Remember, your heavy equipment operator will have an obstructed view of the construction site. They’ll likely need a second pair of eyes out there. Having a signal spotter wearing high-visibility clothing direct your operator is an excellent way to ensure that heavy equipment is operated safely, regardless of blind spots. 

All of your on-foot workers should be trained on how to recognize hazards and work safely around heavy equipment. It is imperative that your heavy equipment operators are aware of all on-foot workers. In addition, all workers must wear the required personal protective equipment (PPE) when working around heavy equipment, including high visibility clothing. 

Consult an Attorney

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, it is your responsibility as an employer to provide your workers with a work environment free of hazards that could cause death or serious injury. Failure to do so could result in your jobsite being visited by an OSHA compliance officer. Contact a Texas OSHA defense lawyer for a comprehensive rundown on your OSHA requirements with regards to vehicle and heavy equipment safety. 

If you would like to speak with one of our Texas OSHA defense attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

How the New Taxpayer First Act Deals With Retaliation Complaints

As an employer, you simply can’t make the mistake of retaliating against a worker that submits a complaint against you with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Federal law protects your employees against acts of retaliation, whether made internally or to a relevant government agency. Your workers have the right to report unsafe workplaces, and no business owner is protected from their own negligence.

In this brief article, an OSHA lawyer will discuss how the new Taxpayer First Act (TFA) affects the way retaliation complaints are handled by OSHA. This statute was signed into law on July 1, 2019, allowing OSHA to manage worker retaliation complaints against employers under the TFA. Remember, to protect your business from safety violations, consult our OSHA lawyers.

What You Need to Know

Under the TFA, OSHA has the ability to investigate retaliatory actions made against employees that have submitted a complaint. OSHA can investigate a number of different complaints, including those related to:

  • Underpayment of tax
  • Violations of internal revenue laws
  • Violations of federal laws dealing with tax fraud to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or any other federal entity listed in the TFA, such as a supervisor or other employee that has the ability to investigate, discover, or eliminate misconduct.
  • Employees testifying, assisting, or otherwise taking part in any form of administrative or judicial action with the IRS. For example, an investigation looking into the alleged underpayment of tax, violation of internal revenue law, or violation of any federal law dealing with tax fraud.

How Complaints Are Processed

For now, OSHA will process all TFA whistleblower complaints in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), 49 U.S.C. § 42121. This process is likely to change once an interim final rule is issued, as this complaint procedure is intended to deal specifically with cases involving the aviation industry. That said, this procedure currently serves as a satisfactory method for handling complaints.

OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program

According to OSHA, the Whistleblower Protection Program is designed to enforce the more than 20 whistleblower statutes protecting employees in the United States. This program supports employees in a wide variety of industries by protecting their right to file complaints related to workplace safety and health and a myriad of other considerations. As a business owner, you must allow your workers to submit complaints if they feel doing so is justified. You can prevent complaints by focusing on workplace safety, implementing training programs, educating workers, making safety a central component of your workplace culture, and consulting an OSHA lawyer.

If you would like to speak with one of our OSHA lawyers, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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