By Jon Hyman
Jan. 13, 2016
Central Transport operates trucking terminals around the country. As a result of OSHA’s investigation of one facility in Massachusetts, the agency fined the company $330,800 for violations relating to powered industrial trucks. That, in and of itself, is not that remarkable. What OSHA did next, however, should cause your head to spin.
In addition to the citations and fines levied at the facility it actually inspected, an OSHA administrative law judge also ordered “enterprise-wide” abatement at the 170 nationwide facilities OSHA had not inspected. The ALJ relied on the “other appropriate relief” clause of section 10(c) of the Act to conclude that the agency has the authority to order such enterprise-wide abatement of hazards existing, “upon information and belief,” at worksites other than the location where the inspection occurred.
“Judge Baumerich’s order is significant and precedent-setting. This is the first decision by an OSHA Administrative Law Judge expressly finding that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission may have the authority under the OSH Act to order abatement measures beyond the specific violations identified in the citations. The department is now authorized to proceed with discovery and to demonstrate, by presenting its evidence at trial, that enterprise-wide abatement is merited on the facts of this case,” said Michael Felsen, the regional solicitor of labor for New England.
“When an employer has hazards occurring at multiple locations, common sense and reasonable worker protection law enforcement both dictate that the employer take corrective action to safeguard the health and well-being of employees at all its worksites,” said Kim Stille, OSHA’s regional administrator for New England.
If your business operates in more than one location, you cannot ignore this case or its implications. What steps can (should?) you take to minimize the risk of enterprise-wide abatement based on a one-site inspection? Think CAT — Communicate, Analyze, and Train.
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