Monthly Archives: July, 2019

  1. OSHA in Texas: Misconceptions

    Texas OSHA Defense Attorney Gavel
    In the State of Texas, contractors must be diligent when following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) rules and regulations. Texas is one of twenty-four states under federal OSHA jurisdiction. This means that the majority of private sector workers are required to observe the federal rules and regulations established in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. As a contractor, it’s imperative that you follow these rules to a T, otherwise you risk exposing yourself to costly OSHA citations, stop-work orders, and more.

    In this article, our Texas OSHA defense attorneys will break down some misconceptions about OSHA rules in the Lone Star State. Although it’s up to you to maintain a safe workplace that is clear of recognized hazards, the behavior and actions of your workforce are also your responsibility. You don’t have room to be lenient with workers that put themselves in peril. One honest mistake could lead to a project in limbo.

    Does OSHA Apply to the Government?

    This is a complex question. Although it may seem logical for OSHA’s rules and regulations to apply to those employed by the federal government, Texas state government, or any related agencies, it’s mainly aimed at workers in the private sector. OSHA covers the majority of private sector workers and employers in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and various jurisdictions. If a state doesn’t have an OSHA-approved state plan, they must follow OSHA’s federal plan. Self-employed workers are not covered under the OSH Act.

    State and local government workers aren’t covered by OSHA, but they do have certain OSH Act protections if their state is operating under an approved state plan. Federal government workers are protected by OSHA, but government agencies can’t be fined. They can, however, be audited to improve workplace safety. That said, federal workers must have protections on par with private sector employees. What does this mean for contractors working on public projects? Put simply, you aren’t technically a government employee so you need to ensure that you’re compliant with all OSHA rules and regulations. If that seems like a lot to handle, consider sitting down with some experienced Texas OSHA defense lawyers to formulate a plan.

    Is OSHA Too Complex to Understand?

    While OSHA’s rules and regulations are comprehensive and diverse, they aren’t complicated to the point of being indecipherable. Truly, the greatest detriment against OSHA’s rules is the fact that they are so robust that most contractors will be hard-pressed to commit them all to memory. Trying to rewire your brain to remember every OSHA regulation is a fruitless pursuit when a partnership with our Texas OSHA defense lawyers will suffice. Let a lawyer handle the mental legwork, so you can focus on completing your projects on time. 

    If you would like to speak with one of our Texas OSHA defense 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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  2. How OSHA is Trying to Reduce the Burden on Employers

    Florida OSHA Defense Lawyer Construction Workers
    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is instituting a handful of new rules that take effect on July 15, 2019. The overarching goal of these updates is to streamline processes, decrease paperwork, and preserve funds. The final rule will lead to fourteen standards revisions related to record keeping, construction, and more. OSHA believes that companies in the United States will save up to $6.1 million annually as a result. In this article, a Florida OSHA defense lawyer will discuss these upcoming changes and explain how they will reduce the burden on employers. For all of your OSHA defense needs, consult a Florida OSHA defense lawyer.

    Compliance Made Easy

    It might feel like OSHA is constantly lurking in the shadows, waiting to lash out against employers who fail to maintain absolute compliance, but their real motivations are much less sinister. OSHA wants all contractors to facilitate a safe project site. The citations and penalties incurred along the way are meant to improve safety. While OSHA is concerned with maintaining workplace safety nationwide, they’re also looking for ways to streamline compliance and lessen the burden on contractors.

    Changes Pending

    This notion is best illustrated by OSHA’s recent move to scrap some proposed changes to its current lockout/tagout standards. Since the proposed changes had a high chance of increasing the burden on employers, the agency decided to hold off. Instead of reinventing the wheel and throwing employers into a frenzy, OSHA has decided to implement a series of distinct rules regarding lockout/tagout. OSHA is even encouraging employers to speak out to let them know if proposed rules are going to do more harm than good. OSHA must take a balanced approach. When new rules are too stringent, it throws off our industries and creates other problems. When new rules are too lax, it leads to more injuries and potential fatalities. 

    Overview

    Not all of OSHA’s rule changes apply to the construction industry. For example, redacting feral cats from the definition of vermin isn’t going to have any serious repercussions for contractors. However, contractors should be aware of the following:

    • Employers must now post latitude and longitude data (or other location-identification information) on project sites with poor cell service.
    • The minimum breaking strength for lifelines has been reduced from 5,400 pounds to 5,000 pounds.
    • To preserve privacy, employers are no longer required to include their workers’ Social Security numbers on certain forms.

    If you would like to speak with a Florida OSHA lawyer, 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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  3. Crane Accidents and OSHA’s Response Part 2

    OSHA Lawyer Crane
    In response to the potentially fatal hazards that cranes present to construction crews, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has implemented rules and regulations regarding crane operation. In part one of this two-part series, we discussed the loss of life that results from crane accidents. Below, an OSHA lawyer will be discussing the certification requirements for crane operators and OSHA’s final rule regarding cranes and derricks in construction. Remember, these rules apply to employers and employees alike. Failure to abide by them could result in an inspection and fine from OSHA. 

    OSHA’s Final Rule

    Published on August 9, 2010, OSHA’s final rule was implemented to raise the standards of crane safety, which had not been replaced for decades. This new standard was designed to address and mitigate OSHA’s fatal four hazards: falls, struck by an object, electrocutions, and caught in/between. 

    At a whopping 273 pages, it would be impossible to go over the entirety of the final rule in this series. Consult with one of our OSHA lawyers for the specifics. What follows are the main requirements:

    • A pre-erection of tower crane parts 
    • Use of synthetic slings in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions 
    • Assessment of ground conditions
    • Procedures for working near power lines 

    Licensing Requirements for Crane Operators 

    In addition to the above provisions, employers are required to comply with local and state operator licensing requirements as stipulated in § 1926.1427. Under this provision, crane operators must be “trained, certified/licensed, and evaluated” before operating a crane. Whether an operator must be certified under the state, county, or city licensing program depends on if the state or local licensing criteria meets the minimum federal requirements. Consult with an OSHA lawyer for help determining which licensing program is right for you. 

    OSHA’s Severe Penalties  

    If a crane is being operated on your jobsite by an uncertified worker, it could result in severe penalties. A single violation can result in a penalty of $13,260. Willful and repeat violations can result in fines of up to $132,598 per violation. If a crane is being operated unlawfully on your jobsite, consult with an OSHA lawyer immediately. Doing so could not only prevent a severe penalty but also ensure the safety of your workforce. 

    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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  4. Crane Accidents and OSHA’s Response Part 1

    OSHA Defense Attorney Crane
    Cranes are essential for completing construction-related tasks that would otherwise be impossible. However, these massive machines pose a significant hazard to operators, construction workers, and the general population. 

    In this two-part series, we will be discussing common crane accidents and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations implemented to mitigate crane-related injuries. If you are ever concerned with providing your workers with a safe work environment or remaining compliant with OSHA standards, consult with an OSHA defense attorney

    Fatal Crane Injuries

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 220 crane-related deaths from 2011 to 2015 in the United States, 42 percent being in the private construction industry. Over half of these fatal injuries occurred when a worker was struck by an object, and 69 deaths occurred when a worker was struck by a falling object. The crane operator is the fatally injured worker in 22 percent of these cases. For this reason, crane operators must undergo additional training, as we’ll discuss in part two

    The Major Causes of Crane Accidents 

    The major causes of crane accidents involve the following: 

    • Struck by an object/equipment
    • Transportation incidents
    • Falls to a lower level 
    • Contact with energized power lines
    • Lifting device failure
    • Dropped loads
    • Boom collapse 
    • Crushed by the counterweight
    • Outrigger failure
    • Rigging failure

    Preventing Accidents

    Many fatal crane accidents are freak accidents, but many more can be mitigated by preventative measures. Ensuring that loads are within limits, properly secured, and as close to the crane and ground as is reasonably safe could mean the difference between life and death on your jobsite. Always ensure that your workers wear a personal fall arrest system when needed, are aware of risks, and are a safe distance away from a crane in use. 

    In part two, we will be discussing OSHA’s response to the grim statistics above which includes a final rule and recently imposed licensing requirements for crane operators. Failure to abide by these rules could result in a fatal injury on your jobsite and an OSHA inspection. For aid with lawfully preventing crane accidents on your jobsite, consult with an OSHA defense attorney

    If you would like to speak with an OSHA defense lawyer, 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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