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Verrill Dana, LLP

Verrill Dana, LLP is one of New England's preeminent regional law firms. With offices in Portland and Augusta, ME; Boston, MA; Westport, CT; Providence, RI; and Washington D.C. Verrill Dana provides sophisticated legal representation to businesses and individuals in the traditional areas of litigation, real estate, business law, labor and employment law, employee benefits, environmental law, intellectual property and estate planning.  The Firm also has industry-focused specialties including higher education, health care and health technology, energy, and timberlands. 

Disclaimer:  The content presented in this blog is for general information only, is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice. While we welcome you to contact our blog authors at hrlawupdate@verrilldana.com, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you. 

Entries in OSHA (11)

Friday
Sep302016

Letters from the Workers' Compensation Trenches

I am just back from an invigorating seminar put on by the national group to which we belong as the sole Maine member, the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network and want to share some highlights. This year’s seminar, held in Chicago on September 22, included presentations on lots of relevant topics, but a few really inspired me.

The seminar kicked off with a panel including risk managers from retail, healthcare, trucking and manufacturing discussing various innovative ways to “Make our Work Comp Program Great Again!” The panel discussed claims costs management tactics including creative medical management systems, initiating early investigations and setting workable and real metrics to measure progress in claims management. Next, we learned all about traumatic brain injuries, including the medical science behind legitimate claims and signs of illegitimate claims. A session on reducing narcotic use featuring a risk representative from a large national retail chain was also very well-received and timely. But one of the most informative session, in my humble opinion, was presented as an “ad-on” by my colleague from Washington State, attorney George Goodman and it is this session that I’d like to bring to our reader’s attention.

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Tuesday
Aug162016

Feds Figure Out How to Make Workplace Safety a Profit Center – But Not For The Employers

Just in case you missed our earlier post, effective August 1, the Department of Labor issued a new rule implementing significantly higher penalties upon employers for Occupational Safety and Health Act violations.  After August 1, the new penalty rates will be effective for any violations which occurred after November 2, 2015.

By way of example, a willful or repeated violation citation jumps from a $70,000 maximum fine to $124,709.  The odd numbers come from the fact that the changes are implemented pursuant to the Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, which required the DOL and other federal agencies to increase their penalties based on inflation since the penalties were last upped.  Subsequently, the Inflation Adjustment Act requires annual adjustments for inflation based on the consumer price index.  But, it is not just OSHA violations that will be costlier, it is all across the board, from FMLA to violations of minimum wage and overtime rules.  So, be sure to check that all of your posters are current, as there are fines for inadequate postings for such laws as Title VII, FMLA, Wage & Hour, Workers’ Compensation, etc.

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Tuesday
Aug162016

Zika in the Workplace: Best Practices for Not Getting Bit with Liability

There are things we all need to know about Zika: 1) it is spread mostly by an infected Aedes species mosquito; 2) it can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus; 3) there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika; and 4) confirmed cases of the Zika virus have been identified in the United States.  While there are a whole host of things we still need to learn about the virus, there are a number of things you as an employer need to be mindful of when it comes to this virus

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Friday
Jul082016

OSHA Ignites Firework of a Penalty Hike Prior to Independence Day

Late last week, while everyone was focused on the summer holiday, the Department of Labor announced that pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvement Act, OSHA’s maximum penalties, which have not been raised since 1990, will increase by 78 percent. This will increase the “serious”, “other-than-serious” and “posting requirements” penalty from $7,000 to $12,471 per violation, the failure to abate from $7,000 per day beyond abatement date to $12,471 per day beyond abatement date, and increase the maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations from $70,000 to $124,709.

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Wednesday
Apr202016

Dude, I Think He’s High…Can I Fire Him?

Oftentimes clients ask, “When we think an employee is high, can we fire him?” My answer is consistently the same, “That depends.” It depends on a whole host of factors, what state do you live in, what industry do you work in, why do you think he’s high, but most importantly, what is your risk tolerance?

In at-will states (of which many are), an employer can terminate an employee for any reason as long as it is not in violation of a law. The problem is, the list of laws which protect employees continues to become longer and longer. Employee protections related to the use of controlled substances is no exception. We see the ADA, state marijuana laws, OSHA, state drug testing laws, and other fair employment practices laws consistently affecting the marijuana in the workplace analysis.

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Monday
Jan112016

Employers Should Use Fall Protection When Maneuvering Around Eleventh Circuit’s OSHA Supervisor Liability Standard

Last week, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission holding that an employer was liable for an incident involving a supervisor working beside an employee who was seen not using fall protection. In Quinlan Enterprises v. DOL the question before the court was whether it was appropriate to impute a supervisor’s knowledge of an employee’s misconduct onto the employer under OSHA when the supervisor was simultaneously participating in the misconduct.

This was a novel question before the court in light of the 2013 Eleventh Circuit decision in Comtran Group v. DOL, which held that when the supervisor is the one committing the violation, the Department of Labor is charged with producing additional evidence of knowledge of the part of the employer to prove liability.

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