Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Court Allows OSHRC to Seek Enterprise-Wide Abatement

An Administrative Law judge has decided that the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) may have authority under the OSH Act to order abatement measures beyond the specific violations OSHA identified in citations.

In November 2014, OSHA cited Central Transport LLC for 14 violations of workplace safety and health standards at the freight hauler's Billerica, MA, shipping terminal. The company filed a notice of contest with the OSHRC the following month.

In its complaint to the commission, DOL alleged that Central Transport failed to comply with OSHA powered industrial truck safety standards at locations other than the inspected work site, and requested an order compelling the company to comply with the standard at all locations. Central Transport then filed a motion asking the commission to strike the department’s claim for enterprise-wide abatement, arguing that the OSH Act does not permit it.

On Dec. 7, 2015, Administrative Law Judge Carol Baumerich has denied the company's motion, holding that the OSH Act's provision authorizing the remedy of "other appropriate relief" provides the basis for allowing DOL's claim for enterprise-wide abatement, at all locations where like violations exist, to proceed to trial. Judge Baumerich also denied Central Transport’s request for a discovery and litigation stay of the claim for enterprise-wide abatement, finding that such a stay would jeopardize the litigation of the department’s claim.

"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 work sites," says Kim Stille, OSHA regional administrator for New England.