Regardless of size or sector, all employers face challenges protecting the safety and health of their employees. Compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) numerous federal and state occupational safety and health standards and regulations can be a daunting task, especially in today's heightened regulatory environment.
Epstein Becker Green's OSHA attorneys are here to help. We provide the full gamut of occupational safety and health law services—from counseling on safety and health matters to representing management in safety and health litigation arising out of enforcement actions in both federal and state OSHA-administered plans—to a diverse range of clients throughout the United States. Because we are one of the nation's preeminent labor and employment law firms, at the same time that we provide counsel focused on specific safety and health matters, our clients can be confident that we will also identify and address any “big picture” implications of their OSHA issues.
Our attorneys know OSHA. Accordingly, we provide advice and representation to clients in connection with the following types of matters:
- Accidents and Catastrophes
- Combustible Dust Explosions
- Grain Engulfment Accidents
- Major Construction Accidents
- Manufacturing Accidents
- Chemical and Petroleum Refining Fires, Explosions, and Other Accidents
- Citations Characterized as "Willful" or "Repeated"
- Citations Issued Under OSHA's Multiemployer Enforcement Policy
- Efforts to Achieve OSHA VPP Status
- Egregious and Substantial Enforcement Cases
- Employee/Union Complaints
- General Duty Clause Violations
- Inspections Under OSHA's Numerous National and Local Emphasis Programs
- Issues Related to OSHA's Severe Violators Enforcement Policy
- OSHA State Plan Inspections
- Process Safety Management Citations
- Recordkeeping Violations
- Wall-to-Wall Inspections
Our services also include:
- Representing employers during inspections, investigations, and enforcement actions by OSHA, CSB, EPA, MSHA, ATF, NTSB, state and local environmental regulators, fire marshals, and other government entities
- Responding to, and managing, investigations of catastrophic industrial, construction, manufacturing, and other workplace accidents, including explosions, collapses, and chemical releases
- Handling high-profile Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) criminal referrals and prosecutions
- Handling all aspects of OSHA litigation, including appeals of OSHA citations and the negotiation of settlements that minimize the impact of enforcement actions on wrongful death and injury cases
- Defending employers against complaints of retaliation and whistleblowing violations filed with federal and state OSHA offices
- Conducting workplace safety and health audits, injury, and illness recordkeeping audits, and safety and health training
- Providing counseling on compliance with standards and regulations
- Counseling employers on the development and implementation of safety and health programs and procedures
- Representing employers and industry associations before OSHA rulemaking forums, including the preparation of written comments and testimony on behalf of employers and associations
- Conducting safety and health due diligence for sales, mergers, and acquisitions
Representative Matters by Industry
- Managed the on-site inspection under the PSM Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program of a high-profile chemical plant in West Virginia. A team of four compliance officers, including two PSM specialists from OSHA's Salt Lake City Technical Center, spent more than two full months scrutinizing every element of the PSM Standard at the facility, and, at the end of the process, we convinced OSHA not to issue any citations.
- Represented a specialty chemical manufacturer in multi-agency (OSHA, CSB, EPA, ATF, U.S. Coast Guard, and a state environmental regulator) investigations, inspections, and enforcement actions arising out of a catastrophic explosion in a reactor that resulted in two fatalities. OSHA's enforcement action was cut more than in half, and violations alleged by OSHA to be "Willful" and "Repeated" were withdrawn or re-characterized.
- Assisted petroleum refiners throughout the nation in preparing for, and defending, enforcement actions arising out of inspections under OSHA's Petroleum Refinery Process Safety Management National Emphasis Program.
- Managed inspections, investigations, and enforcement actions by OSHA, CSB, EPA, and the U.S. Attorney regarding a catastrophic storage tank explosion, a confined space nitrogen asphyxiation accident, and a PSM Program Quality Verification for an East Coast petroleum refinery.
- Managed a several month long wall-to-wall safety and health inspection of a weld and tire wire manufacturing facility in the Midwest that included important combustible dust, lead exposure program, and electrical safety issues.
- Conducted due diligence reviews, in which we identified key gaps in a Process Safety Management Program that resulted in substantial additional dollars transferring to our client in the overall structure of the deal.
Natural Gas & Electrical Power:
- Defended an oil and gas drilling specialist in an OSHA enforcement action arising out of a flash fire on a natural gas drilling rig in West Virginia involving the first alleged Flame Retardant Clothing PPE violation following OSHA's controversial 2010 FRC enforcement memorandum. After months of litigation with the Solicitor's office, achieved a settlement resulting in the elimination of 75 percent of the citation items and proposed penalties.
- Successfully represented a major electrical contractor in the Northeast in multiple electrocution accidents.
- Represented a construction general contractor in OSHA investigations of fatal construction accidents raising complex multiemployer worksite citation policy issues at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (no citations), the Pentagon (no citations), and Fort Meade (no citations).
- Managed numerous OSHA inspections, appeals of citations, and complex settlement negotiations following general construction, steel erection, and concrete shoring fatal accidents at construction projects throughout New York.
Health and Life Sciences:
- Managed multiagency investigations of one of the most significant combustible dust explosions in history, one that injured 42 employees, including six fatalities, at a facility in North Carolina (NC) manufacturing medical device systems. We established an on-site Command Center, coordinated the investigation of a team of forensic experts, and managed the investigations and inspections of federal OSHA, NC OSHA, CSB, EPA, DNR, ATF, FBI, SBI, the State Fire Marshal, insurance investigators for dozens of entities, and numerous plaintiffs' attorneys. Over 200 employee interviews were conducted and more than 200,000 pages of records were produced to various investigators. At the end of this high profile investigation, NC OSHA issued 88 citations with a $600,000 penalty, and we had 87 of the citation items withdrawn and the penalty reduced by 83 percent to a $100,000 donation to community organizations.
- Assisted a major health services provider in New York challenge a General Duty Clause Workplace Violence citation issued after a mental health care provider was attacked by a patient during an inpatient group therapy session.
- Defended a major grain and agronomy cooperative in a substantial OSHA enforcement action arising out of an engulfment accident, including convincing the U.S. Attorney's office not to bring a criminal charge under the OSH Act.
- Negotiated a substantial reduction in an NC OSHA enforcement action against a grain and feed manufacturer after a catastrophic grain elevator dust explosion.
- Assisted a hotel employer deal with safety and health complaints raised by a union in conjunction with ongoing labor negotiations.
- Helped a major national hotel chain resolve fire, electrical safety, and other citations arising out of a programmed inspection at a property in Chicago.
- Defended OSHA citations regarding blocked exits and exit routes and electrical safety issues.
- Represented a major national retail trade association in the rulemaking proceeding for OSHA's proposed injury and illness reporting rule.
Epstein Becker Green's skilled OSHA attorneys serve clients all over United States from offices in Washington, DC; New York City; San Francisco; and Chicago.