Category Archives: Category 1

  1. 3 Winter Safety Tips for Construction Sites

    Wintertime in the Great Lakes State brings frigid temperatures and months of wet conditions and snowfall. Towns in northern Michigan and the upper peninsula experience as much as 180 inches of snow each year. With snowfall and snowstorms beginning to form this winter, Michigan-based contractors must ramp up their safety and training meetings to combat the cold. 

    In this brief article, a Michigan OSHA lawyer will discuss three safety topics related to Michigan jobsites during the winter. Remember, an unsafe worksite can lead to an injury or a citation. If your jobsite has been issued a penalty from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), consult a Michigan OSHA attorney. At Cotney Construction Law, we are committed to representing construction companies in any safety-related legal issue. 

    1. Winter Attire

    Construction professionals always need to wear the right clothes and personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure their safety and productivity. When winter weather hits, clothing choice on the jobsite only becomes more important. It will come as no surprise that some common pieces of apparel for the winter construction worker include:

    • Thermal Socks
    • Thermal Gloves 
    • Waterproof Non-Slip Work Boots
    • Wool Fabrics
    • Insulated Pants
    • Polyester Thermal Underwear
    • Long Sleeve Shirts
    • Wool Cap Under the Hardhat

    Bonus: 4 More Tips Related to Clothing

    Here are four more things to consider related to PPE on the winter jobsite: 

    1. Avoid Cotton: Although it’s excellent summer attire for the jobsite, cotton can easily get wet and quickly reduce a worker’s body temperature.
    2. Wear Multiple Layers: Workers should wear several layers that can be easily removed when needed. The most outer layer should be waterproof and the most inner layer should be insulated. 
    3. Reserve Layers: Additional clothing and blankets should be stored nearby in a warm sheltered area located on the jobsite. 
    4. Thermal Everything: Contractors should also weather-proof their tools and equipment by covering these resources with thermal-insulated material to ensure that all workers have a firm grip when handling equipment. 

    2. Stretching Exercises

    Along with wearing the right attire to be comfortable and productive, site managers need to stress that their workforce should warm up before the start of each day. As construction is extremely physical work that can lead to muscle injuries in the cold, construction professionals should perform a morning warmup stretch to decrease muscle stiffness, improve range of motion, and reduce the chances of an injury occurring. Stretching also can improve each worker’s circulation, which reduces muscle soreness.  

    Contractors should also provide workers with plenty of short breaks in warm areas, pair workers together so they can monitor each other as they work, and try to schedule work to be performed during the warmest hours of the day.   

    3. Detecting Issues

    Working outside in the wet and windy elements presents many challenges, including those that expose workers to serious health conditions. When exposed for a significant amount of time, workers may be susceptible to serious medical conditions like frostbite and hypothermia. Some common symptoms experienced by a worker with a dangerously low body temperature include shivering, difficulty speaking, fatigue, red skin, lack of coordination, and difficulty breathing. 

    Workers that are beginning to show any of the above symptoms should be removed from the cold and placed in a warm shelter. Any wet clothing should be removed, and their breathing should be closely monitored. Although direct heat like hot water should not be applied to the worker, a warm compress can be applied to their neck and torso area. If a worker appears to be experiencing hypothermia, seek immediate medical attention.   

    If you would like to speak with a Michigan OSHA 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.

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  2. Do I Have to Let OSHA Inspectors Onto My Jobsite?

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees approximately 7 million worksites. They are most likely to pay a visit to a jobsite following a severe injury or illness, work complaint, or referral. But they are also capable of showing up without prior warning. When an OSHA compliance officer surprises you with an inspection, will you be ready? 

    Below, we discuss what you can do when an OSHA compliance officer comes knocking. Whether your realize it or not, you do have a say in who can enter your jobsite, investigate your work practices, and interview your employees. When it comes to securing your business, don’t be afraid to exercise your rights, especially when you have an OSHA attorney on your side. 

    Right to Refuse

    As an employer, you have a right to demand a warrant and refuse an OSHA compliance officer entry onto your jobsite. However, there’s very little stopping them from moving the issue up the chain of command and obtaining an inspection warrant or equivalent. 

    The Compliance Safety and Health Officer shall endeavor to ascertain the reason for such refusal, and shall immediately report the refusal and the reason therefor to the Area Director. The Area Director shall consult with the Regional Solicitor, who shall take appropriate action, including compulsory process, if necessary. (29 CFR § 1903.4

    While you can demand a warrant and bide time, it’s in your best interest to be prepared ahead of time. Consult our OSHA lawyers with any questions you may have regarding the inspection process.  

    Related: What to Expect When OSHA Inspects 

    Our Advice 

    You should always be courteous to an OSHA compliance officer no matter the reason for their visit. There’s no reason to show hostility in what boils down to a legal situation. Above all else, know your rights. You are allowed to appoint a representative to accompany the OSHA compliance officer during the inspection. You may even request that the inspection be delayed, usually up to one hour. In the event that an OSHA compliance officer wishes to expand their investigation beyond its initial scope — let’s say to a potentially hazardous area unrelated to the cause for the initial visit — you can always refuse. Remember, there must be probable cause before OSHA can expand an investigation to any other part of your jobsite. 

    Related: Court Case Prevents Inspections From Expanding Beyond Their Original Scope

    It’s important to have a legal ally on your side who can help you before, during, and after an inspection. Our OSHA lawyers can not only conduct mock inspections to highlight hazards that can lead to an investigation but also represent you in the event that an investigation is initiated. If you are concerned that your site conditions may lead to an investigation, or an OSHA compliance officer has already paid you a visit, consult an OSHA attorney who can help you mitigate hazards, investigations, and potential citations. 

    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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  3. Appeals Court Case Prevents Inspections From Expanding Beyond Their Original Scope

    Of all things, a poultry company may help construction companies in their never-ending struggle with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections. In a ruling described as a “game changer,” the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Mar-Jac’s Poultry plant in Gainesville, GA, against OSHA’s attempt to expand an investigation beyond its original scope. 

    Below, an Alabama OSHA attorney discusses this case and its immediate impact on employers in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. Contractors and construction companies emboldened by this ruling will hopefully be more willing to exercise their rights when faced with a surprise OSHA inspection. 

    Wear This Box 

    Following an accident at the Georgia processing facility, a team of OSHA compliance officers were sent to the location for an inspection. While Mar-Jac is subject to random inspections, this inspection was brought on by a specific incident. Inspectors found possible violations related to the accident as well as other accidents reported in OSHA 300 logs. 

    Related: Understanding OSHA Inspection Criteria

    OSHA cited these findings as the basis for expanding their investigation to cover the entire facility. Mar-Jac refused, even going so far as to require an inspector to wear a box over their head in order to prevent them from seeing other hazards while investigating the injured worker’s tools. OSHA pushed for a warrant, and the dispute made its way through the court system all the way to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

    The Final Verdict 

    The 11th Circuit upheld the decision of the lower courts and concluded that there was no probable cause to expand the scope of the inspection. Furthermore, the appeals court held that “hazards” and “violations” are two separate things and that the presence of a hazard does not necessarily establish a violation. 

    Bottom line: Whether based on an accident or OSHA 300 logs, there must be probable cause before OSHA can expand an investigation to any other part of your site. 

    A Victory for Contractors Everywhere

    This is an incredible victory for employers in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, especially for contractors who have experienced an injury on their jobsite despite their best efforts to provide a hazard-free work environment. But while this decision directly impacts the Southeast, it may soon have widespread ramifications. 

    Related: How OSHA Representation Can Save Contractors Money 

    If you are faced with an impending OSHA investigation, don’t be afraid to exercise your rights and exert ownership of your site and work practices. An Alabama OSHA attorney can determine the full extent of your rights and assist when OSHA turns up on your doorstep. For an ally that will stand with during an investigation and defend against citations, consult the experienced OSHA attorneys from Cotney Construction Law. 

    If you would like to speak with one of our Alabama 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. Understanding OSHA’s Investigation Process

    As Texas OSHA defense lawyers, we often stress how important it is for construction firms to remain safety compliant. Whether providing legal advice, a third-party audit of a jobsite, or defense against a citation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), our construction attorneys are committed to representing construction companies in all of their safety-related legal matters. 

    In order to mitigate the chances of being issued a citation, construction firms need to have an in-depth understanding of OSHA’s investigation process. In this article, a Texas OSHA lawyer will discuss each stage of this process. 

    Before OSHA Arrives

    Before we delve into the general inspection process conducted by OSHA, lets first discuss the most common reasons why an investigation occurs. Some of the most common reasons why a jobsite is investigated include:

    • Any situations involving imminent danger
    • If an accident leads to the death of a worker 
    • Instances in which a worker is seriously injured on the job
    • Worker complaints reported to OSHA
    • Repeat OSHA offenders are targeted for inspections
    • Jobsites issued fines have follow-up inspections

    When OSHA Arrives

    An OSHA compliance officer will arrive at the jobsite and show the employer their credentials. They will sit down with the employer and explain the reason for their visit. During this opening conference, an OSHA officer provides insight into the scope of their investigation, the walkaround procedures they will conduct, and their intent to interview employees. Lastly, the compliance officer will inform the employer that a representative can be selected to accompany them during their inspection.   

    During the Walkaround 

    Although each and every investigation can differ depending on the nature of the visit, the compliance officer will inspect the workplace and identify any potential hazards. They will also conduct private individual interviews with several of the employees, asking them questions related to safety and training in the workplace. 

    At the End of the Visit

    At the end of their walkaround, the compliance officer will sit down with the employer and their representative and discuss the findings, potential corrective actions, and a reasonable date to make these corrections by. The OSHA compliance officer will also provide the employer with potential courses of action they can take. They will then complete an incident report detailing their visit. This report includes any relevant information related to what they discussed with the employer and any potential infractions discovered during the investigation. This report is then sent to OSHA’s area director. 

    After the Visit

    The area director assesses the report and decides if any violations discovered during the investigation should result in a citation. If a citation is issued, the employer has 15 days to respond to the infraction. An employer can either challenge the citation or request an informal conference with the area director to discuss anything related to the citations. 

    If you would like to speak with a Texas 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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  5. Attorney Hilary Morgan Selected for ABC’s NexGen Leadership Program

    Cotney Construction Law is pleased to announce that attorney Hilary Morgan was selected this week for the 2017 Class of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.’s (more…)

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  6. Trent Cotney Awarded as 2016 ICFM 500 Leading Lawyer

    The ICFM 500 is the definitive list of the top 500 lawyers, barristers, and solicitors from across the globe. The magazine has researched and recognized the very best in terms of qualification, customer service, depth of knowledge, and continued good practice.

    Each magazine edition and awards supplement provides readers with content to make informed decisions regarding partnering with lawyers in corporate matters, financing, or ongoing assistance. Recognized lawyers are published free of charge in every issue of the monthly magazine for 12 months.

    About InterContinental Finance & Law Magazine

    InterContinental Finance & Law Magazine is a leading monthly industry publication that carrying clear and concise reports and reviews, highlighting the very best advisors, lawyers, financiers, and banks across all continents while displaying global transactional activity. Visit http://intercontinental-finance.com/ for more information.

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