We advise employers in a broad range of industries on workplace safety issues and provide representation in Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) claims brought by federal and state government agencies. Our extensive experience with federal and state worker safety and health-related requirements has positioned us to serve as national counsel for companies of all sizes, including many Fortune 500 companies, across the country.
Companies that proactively manage employee safety programs are more likely to avoid costly lawsuits. We provide preventive counseling and help clients develop efficient management systems and comprehensive training programs to do just that. Our OSHA lawyers also direct compliance audits and internal safety investigations.
Because accidents do not always occur during normal business hours, we are available 24/7 to respond to inspections, accidents, fatalities, injuries and evacuations. Clients count on us to handle catastrophes calmly and professionally and provide guidance on appropriately responding to OSHA, unions and the media.
Our objective is to render excellent service in a cost-effective manner. We achieve efficient, effective settlements, assist with economical abatement measures and vigorously contest citations to protect our clients’ operations and reputations. We have settled numerous claims – often getting them withdrawn, dismissed or reclassified, or penalties eliminated or reduced with no admission of liability. We also have litigated citations in hearings and on appeal before the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission (OSHRC). Our track record and credibility have earned the respect of many OSHA area directors, Department of Labor solicitors and the OSHRC.
Preventive Counseling & Assistance
- Counseling and advising clients to ensure compliance with OSHA and state and federal environmental regulations and minimize exposure to citations and penalties.
- Providing training programs on preparing for OSHA inspections and on other important OSHA issues and targeting initiatives.
- Developing orientation and training programs for management, supervisors and authorized and affected employees on OSHA and plant safety. Topics often include lockout/tagout; monitoring and surveillance of occupational exposure; inspection, maintenance and repair of equipment; safety and progressive discipline programs; hazard communication; confined space entry; fall protection; and transportation and product storage issues.
- Representing chemical manufacturers in connection with safety issues, with a particular emphasis on process safety management and partnering on industry best practices.
- Working with expert consultants and outside safety professionals to conduct privileged and protected plant safety audits
- Counseling manufacturers and suppliers on OSHA compliance concerning the development, delivery and use of specially made equipment and other machines.
- Evaluating machine guarding issues and persuading product manufacturers to provide employers with additional guarding, warnings or safety devices where necessary.
- Developing warnings, instructions, standard operating procedures and job safety analyses for equipment and manufacturing processes.
- Counseling contractors and employers on OSHA compliance relating to lifting, handling and use of heavy equipment and materials, and other ergonomic issues.
- Implementing OSHA and other record-keeping and reporting programs to limit liability exposure.
- Drafting contracts and counseling on risk transfer solutions and insurance coverage to protect companies that hire and work with outside contractors.
- Supervising environmental compliance assessments and audits of manufacturing facilities.
Investigations & Negotiations
- Providing timely and complete investigations of accidents and responding to ensuing regulatory investigations
- Counseling on effective abatement of safety issues and corrective action plans
- Assisting with all aspects of OSHA investigations, including plant and equipment inspections, employee interviews, and closing, informal and other settlement conferences./li>
- Negotiating settlements of citations, often resulting in their withdrawal, dismissal or reclassification or the reduction or elimination of penalties with no admission of liability
- Assisting companies in responding to employee and union complaints and OSHA inspections used by organized labor during union organizing campaigns.
- Settling disputes among employers, contractors and subcontractors arising from serious accidents in manufacturing facilities or on construction projects.
- Settling citations by focusing on the unique circumstances and unforeseeable employee misconduct in order to prevent repeat or willful citations.
OSHA & Related Litigation
- Defending OSHA citations involving fatalities, amputations, burns and other serious injuries arising from machine guarding, lockout/tagout, improper training, structural collapse, chemical and dust exposure, and fires.
- Resolving OSHA whistle-blower retaliation cases by establishing that employers’ decisions to terminate or discipline employees were not retaliatory.
- Defending citations alleging machine guarding violations by proving that there was no hazard or exposure to a hazard. The products involved have included mixers, grinding wheels, lathes, CNC machines, presses and shearing machines.
- Defending contractors against significant citations relating to lead and asbestos exposure, excavation and trenching operations, fall protection and training programs
- Establishing Review Commission precedent requiring OSHA to prove that employee exposure to unguarded machines and other hazards was reasonably predictable.
- Proving that machine guarding was not feasible and would compromise the utility of employers’ manufacturing operations.
- Obtaining the dismissal or withdrawal of citations, saving employers considerable costs and resources to retrofit or redesign their plant operations nationally.
- Defending intentional tort cases involving workplace fatalities and serious injuries. The cases have involved a variety of issues and products, including machine guarding, Legionnaire’s Disease, lockout/tagout, slips and falls, presses, forklifts, cranes, railings and racking systems, welding machines and consumables, coatings, chemical and dust exposure, construction equipment malfunctions, and material storage and transportation issues.
- Defending cases in Ohio alleging violations of specific safety requirements.
- Defending citations involving storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids.
- Obtaining dismissals of citations involving personal protective equipment, respiratory protection and eyewash requirements.
- Defending citations involving excavation, trenching and sloping operations.
- Coordinating dismissal of citations relating to restraints, hoists and protective equipment on powered industrial trucks and cranes.
- Defending lockout/tagout citations by proving that lockout/tagout programs were effective and proactively enforced.
- Defending citations alleging exposure to lead, dust and other hazardous chemicals used in manufacturing and construction operations.
- Defending chemical exposure and burn cases by establishing that clients had effective hazardous communication programs in place.
A discussion between Thompson Hine partners Devin Barry and Joel Eagle. In this podcast, Devin shares some observations on clients’ compliance challenges arising from COVID-19, and discusses with Joel how these challenges can be used to develop future COVID-19 compliance and enforcement defense strategies. Join us for this lively discussion that will be of interest to in-house counsel and EHS managers interested in proactively addressing compliance as the pandemic continues to create challenges throughout 2020.
A discussion between Thompson Hine partners Andy Kolesar and Wray Blattner. In this episode, Andy shares his insights on strategic considerations for companies closing former manufacturing plants (something happening more frequently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic) that can lead to favorable outcomes in terms of complying with legal requirements, conducting cost-effective cleanups and maximizing the sale price. Andy and Wray discuss the pros and cons of mothballing former manufacturing properties, the risks and benefits of Phase II sampling to help quantify cleanup costs, long-term risk management considerations, and the key elements of effective corporate-wide plant closing and remediation programs. Join us for this lively discussion that will be of interest to in-house counsel, EHS managers and corporate real estate professionals who are facing (or will face) the challenges presented by plant closures.
In this episode, Environmental Counsel Nathan Hunt is joined by Jackie Baxley, EHS Practice Leader at HRP Associates, to discuss the dos and don’ts in OSHA enforcement cases and examine the different roles EHS legal counsel and consultants play in such cases. Jackie and Nathan provide an overview of a typical OSHA enforcement case (2:00-8:30), dive into some pre-enforcement measures companies can take to minimize the risk of enforcement (8:31-26.00), offer practical tips regarding how to navigate an OSHA inspection (26:01-46:00), and describe options companies have if they receive an OSHA citation (46:01-1:04;15). Join us for this thought-provoking conversation that will be of interest to in-house counsel and EHS personnel.