OSHA Compliance and Litigation

Summary:  We provide legal assistance in complying with OSHA, legal advice and assistance in handling OSHA inspections, and legal defense against OSHA citations in all federal and state courts and administrative forums.

OSHA Compliance:  We advise business owners and other employers regarding their compliance duties under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.  We assist in determining the applicability and requirements of specific OSHA safety and health standards and assist with required training and documentation.  Where strict compliance is not feasible we can assist in obtaining a variance from an OSHA standard.

OSHA Inspections:  The timing and scope of an OSHA inspection, as well as OSHA's procedures during the inspection, are governed by constitution, statute, regulation and court case decisions. Employers who do not understand applicable legal requirements and procedures may waive important rights and prejudice their position in any subsequent citation contest proceeding.  Sometimes it may be appropriate to request a search warrant or to otherwise limit the scope or timing of an inspection.  We advise employers regarding their rights and regarding correct OSHA procedures during an inspection to help ensure that OSHA does not exceed its statutory authority.

OSHA Citations:  If OSHA citations are not timely contested they become final and the employer must pay monetary penalties and comply with OSHA's abatement requirements.  This is true even if the violations are not the employer's fault.  Citations that have become final can be the basis for enhanced penalties up to $70,000 for "repeat" or "willful" citations in the future.  We represent employers in contesting and litigating the validity of citations before the federal Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and before various state Safety and Health Review Boards.  Over the past twenty-five years, we have handled in excess of 400 such citation contests from trial before the Administrative Law Judge through appeal to the Review Commission and the courts.

OSHA Fatalities:  Workplace fatalities caused by OSHA violations may result in criminal prosecution. In addition, an OSHA citation in a fatality case may be used as evidence of negligence in a civil lawsuit against the employer. It is therefore critical to involve legal counsel immediately whenever there is a workplace fatality. We represent employers in OSHA fatality investigations, in defending OSHA citations arising from fatalities and in related civil lawsuits.

OSHA Multi-Employer Citations:  On construction sites OSHA attempts to hold general contractors responsible for all OSHA violations on the site.  Pursuant to its "multi-employer citation policy" OSHA frequently cites general contractors for violations committed by independent subcontractors, even though the general contractor did not create the violation and had no employees exposed to the violation. General contractors need to understand that they may not be responsible for subcontractor violations, and that they may increase their own liability at common law if they assume responsibility for subcontractor compliance with OSHA. We represent general contractors in contesting and litigating the validity of citations based on OSHA's multi-employer citation policy.

Related Issues:  We also represent business owners and other employers on a variety of OSHA related issues in state and federal courts and administrative forums.  These issues include administrative subpoena enforcement actions, OSHA search warrant litigation, claims of employee discrimination under ยง 11(c) of the OSH Act and actions to recover expenses and attorney's fees from OSHA under the Equal Access to Justice Act.