OSHA OMG: Violations and shaming employers

DeniseBlommelBy Denise M. Blommel
Employment Law Attorney

First, penalties for OSHA violations go way up on August 1, 2016.

Second, OSHA admitted on its website that its motivation is to shame employers.

As the kids say, “OMG!”

OSHA penalties have not risen since 1990.

Here’s the new penalty schedule, which Arizona’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) must adopt:

Willful                                                    No less than $8,908 or more than $124,709.

Repeat                                                   No more than $124,709

Serious and other than serious          No more than $12,471

Failure to correct                                  No more than $12,471 per day

Posting violation                                  No more than $12,471

Not every employer has to keep an OSHA 300 log.  (See the list here to ascertain whether your business is exempt.)  If you are exempt, breathe a little easier.  If not, take a deep breath.

If your business has to keep an OSHA 300 log, you only have a few months to get ready for the 21st century version of the pillory stocks. In its record-keeping final rule, the federal government admits, “Behavioral economics tells us that making injury information publicly available will ‘nudge’ employers to focus on safety.”  Dr. David Michaels, the head of OSHA, said that dirty laundry, heretofore private, will be available to investors, job seekers, customers and the public. According to the government, OSHA logs will be the basis for “big data,” which is a cruel joke given the underfunding of this agency.

The new rules also prohibit retaliation against employees. There is no private right of action for employees so they must rely upon ADOSH and the Industrial Commission of Arizona to prosecute their claims. You still must be careful not to retaliate.

ADOSH will be adopting these new rules. They will be phased in over the next two years by the number of employees and the riskiness of industries.

Here’s what you need to do now:

  • Talk with your worker compensation carrier
  • Transition from paper to electronic media
  • Ascertain what records your business must keep
  • Ascertain what is recordable
  • Review your anti-retaliation policies
  • Do not discourage reporting

Part of being an employer in the Modern World is record-keeping. Your employee handbook probably says, “Safety First.”  Now, it is imperative.

Kids Chance of Arizona defrays school costs for children of injured workers

anniv Jean Gage 09By Jean Gage
CopperPoint Legal Services Manager

The effects of a serious industrial injury on a family can be financially devastating. For this reason, CopperPoint Insurance Companies is a proud sponsor of Kids Chance of Arizona.

Kids Chance of Arizona is a 501(3)(C) nonprofit that provides scholarships to the children of injured or fallen workers in Arizona. Its mission is to fulfill the dreams of children who cannot reach their potential without help.

The scholarships include payment for tuition, books and/or living expenses for undergraduate degree or vocational programs. The children must apply each semester, and there is an expectation that they will maintain a 3.0 grade point average.

Consideration is given to other aid the child may be awarded from other grants or scholarships.

To date, Kids Chance of Arizona has awarded 251 scholarships totaling nearly $600,000.

Kids Chance of Arizona conducts various activities throughout the year to raise funds for these scholarships. These include 5K runs, a bowl-a-thon and a gala.

To learn more about these events and how you can help sponsor these activities, please visit azkidschance.org. Also, if you would like to get involved or contribute to this worthwhile organization, please visit the website.

Finally, if you know of a child who may benefit from this program, have him or her submit an application through the website. An investment in our children, is an investment in our future!

Court Finds That Scheduled Injury Notice is Final

Mattos v. Starwood/Zurich, (Court of Appeals, Division One, Memorandum Decision, filed 7/2/2015)

The issue in this unpublished Memorandum Decision from Division One of the Court of Appeals is whether the original notice of permanent disability, which closed the claim with a scheduled disability for a shoulder and elbow injury, was void on its face and whether the claim should be closed with an unscheduled disability following a petition to reopen. Continue reading