OSHA has long bemoaned that the Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSH Act”) does not allow OSHA to issue penalties sufficiently high enough to deter noncompliance. While reasonable minds can disagree about the sufficiency of the OSH Act’s penalty structure or whether most employers strive to provide safe and healthy workplaces out of fear of enforcement, few can question OSHA’s creative use of “alternative tools” to incentivize compliance. Foremost among those tools is OSHA’s power of the press.
Every week, OSHA identifies by name several employers that have been cited for occupational safety and health violations. The identification is typically in the form of a press release that is made available nationally and affirmatively fed to news organizations in the employers’ vicinity. In essence, OSHA uses these press releases to let employers know that noncompliance can result in not just a fine, but a heck of a lot of bad PR.
The same thing happens in the criminal justice world. When the police or prosecutor want to make a point, at some point after a high-profile arrest, they will walk the suspect through some very public place or somewhere that a press scrum just happens to be set up. It’s called a Perp Walk, and those readers who watch any version of Law and Order know it well. Dun DUN!
Often the press releases are related to tragic workplace accidents, but in other cases, the press releases reflect OSHA’s enforcement priorities. Either way, they provide important information to employers and health and safety professionals. Each week, we will provide you links to OSHA’s previous week of Perp Walks. Here’s the week of October 17th. Dun DUN!
- October 20 [Region 4 News Brief] – 2016 – 10/20/2016 – OSHA cites paper product manufacturer for lacking safety procedures after worker suffers amputation; proposes $68K in penalties
- October 20 [Region 4 News Release] – 2016 – 10/20/2016 – OSHA finds Mississippi sawmill’s safety failures led to worker’s death
- October 19 [Region 5 News Release] – 2016 – 10/19/2016 – OSHA inspectors responding to report of workers sickened by carbon monoxide, finds dangerous asbestos exposure, other hazards at nursing home renovation
- October 19 [Region 5 News Release] – 2016 – 10/19/2016 – Temporary workers rigging steel at Columbus building site at risk of 6-story falls as employers failed to provide fall protection, training
- October 18 [Region 4 News Brief] – 2016 – 10/18/2016 – Framing contractor continues to expose workers to fall and other safety hazards; OSHA proposes nearly $360K in penalties
- October 18 [Region 4 News Release] – 2016 – 10/18/2016 – OSHA cites South Florida tree trimming service in worker’s fatal electrocution
- October 17 [Region 3 News Release] – 2016 – 10/17/2016 – Pennsylvania masonry company agrees to pay $135K in back wages, damages to terminated plant manager following OSHA whistleblower investigation
- October 17 [Region 2 News Brief] – 2016 – 10/17/2016 – Philadelphia contractor exposes workers to fall hazards again, this time at a South Jersey construction worksite