Monday, April 19, 2010

Hillbilly Report: Appeals Court Rules OSHA Empowered to Protect Workers

by: RDemocrat Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 13:29:35 PM EDT

A victory came down today from a federal appeals court for American workers. The court upheld the right of OSHA to that allows that agency to determine how to write and enforce workplace safety rules.

The case began in Houston when a contractor hired 11 immigrant workers to remover asbestos from a building without providing adequate training or equipment. Even after a city inspector issued a stop work order, the contractor forced his employees to work at night behind locked gates.

Although the contractor was cited for 22 violations the Bush Administration Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission overturned many of them:

OSHA cited Ho for 22 separate violations-11 for not training each worker and 11 for not providing a respirator for each worker.

Amazingly, the Bush administration's Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission overturned the majority of the citations, saying Ho could only be cited once for not training workers and once for not providing respirators. That meant Ho only had to pay two fines, not 22.

OSHA officials rewrote the rules to make it clear that each worker must be given protective equipment and training, and an employer can be cited for each worker not given this protection as a separate violation.

But the National Association of Home Builders sued, claiming OSHA didn't have the authority to say that employers could be cited for each worker left unprotected.

However, the District of Columbia Circuit appeals court ruled that OSHA did indeed have the authority to protect individual workers in each case and ruled against the National Association of Home Builders:

Late last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said OSHA has such authority and ruled for the agency in the case, National Association of Home Builders v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The AFL-CIO quickly applauded the decision because it made it clear that it is the responsibility of an employer to protect all of its workers from dangers on the job:

AFL-CIO General Counsel Lynn Rhinehart says the decision makes clear that if an employer doesn't protect its workers, the employer can get cited for each worker it doesn't protect. This is an important principle that will help ensure that workers get the protection they need to be safe on the job.

The AFL-CIO filed a friend of the court brief urging the court to side with OSHA and uphold the rule, Rhinehart said. The AFL-CIO also participated in the rule-making proceeding that produced the rule at issue in the case.

With workers losing so many rights, wages, and benefits in the last several decades it is refreshing to see at last a decision has gone labor's way.

It is the responsibility of an employer to insure any employee is working in safe conditions and has the training and equipment in dangerous situations to keep themselves as safe as possible.

source: aflcio blog

Subscribe to the Rightardia feed:

Netcraft rank: 7963

No comments: