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Thread: OSHA questions

  1. #11
    Appreciate the info, everyone - my scenarios are hypothetical, and in some of these examples, I AM the boss, so it's not about the boss not caring - it's the opposite of the boss not caring.

    What I'm trying to is establish if our workplace policies HERE apply EVERYWHERE, and to violate them on the road is the same as violating them here, whether or not OSHA is involved.

    But OSHA does insist we have a safety policy in place.

    More practically - I have some renegade service techs who insist they are In The Clear as long as they adhere to the local policies. I believe that to be incorrect - but I'm having a hard time finding real proof of that.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by CEDEng View Post
    Appreciate the info, everyone - my scenarios are hypothetical, and in some of these examples, I AM the boss, so it's not about the boss not caring - it's the opposite of the boss not caring.

    What I'm trying to is establish if our workplace policies HERE apply EVERYWHERE, and to violate them on the road is the same as violating them here, whether or not OSHA is involved.

    But OSHA does insist we have a safety policy in place.

    More practically - I have some renegade service techs who insist they are In The Clear as long as they adhere to the local policies. I believe that to be incorrect - but I'm having a hard time finding real proof of that.
    You are the boss, and so whatever you set up as company safety policy is binding on your employees as a condition of their employment.
    Any penalties for violating that safety policy are yours to establish, although it would be considerate to tell your employees in advance if they are particularly drastic, like termination of employment.
    If there are other parties to the contract, such as a union, it gets more complicated.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CEDEng View Post
    Appreciate the info, everyone - my scenarios are hypothetical, and in some of these examples, I AM the boss, so it's not about the boss not caring - it's the opposite of the boss not caring.

    What I'm trying to is establish if our workplace policies HERE apply EVERYWHERE, and to violate them on the road is the same as violating them here, whether or not OSHA is involved.

    But OSHA does insist we have a safety policy in place.

    More practically - I have some renegade service techs who insist they are In The Clear as long as they adhere to the local policies. I believe that to be incorrect - but I'm having a hard time finding real proof of that.
    As the boss you have the power to make whatever rules you see fit, even if they exceed the bare minimum requirements of where an employee might be physically working.
    Bob

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldDigger View Post
    You are the boss, and so whatever you set up as company safety policy is binding on your employees as a condition of their employment.
    Any penalties for violating that safety policy are yours to establish, although it would be considerate to tell your employees in advance if they are particularly drastic, like termination of employment.
    If there are other parties to the contract, such as a union, it gets more complicated.
    Quote Originally Posted by petersonra View Post
    As the boss you have the power to make whatever rules you see fit, even if they exceed the bare minimum requirements of where an employee might be physically working.
    To chime in on these points, from an OSHA standpoint, YOU as the boss are required to have a policy, review the policy and ensure that your employees know and review the policy periodically. What they do when you are there hovering over them is at their own risk and the risk of the people where they work. In other words if YOU have the policy and THEY sign off on having been trained in it, if their toes get chopped off in Egypt because the Egyptians had no safety shoe requirement, that's their problem. YOU had one and they chose to violate it. Just don't acknowledge that you know they are violating it and don't care. Stick to your policy statement.
    __________________________________________________ ____________________________
    Many people are shocked when they discover I am not a good electrician...

  5. #15
    as luck would have it, a relevant situation is happening as we type...

    we're having some remodeling done here at the office - so the builders are here doing some roof work.

    they are not wearing fall protection. (It's high, dangerous work, and I am certain they should not be walking around nonchalantly 30 feet above the concrete.)

    So...
    1. We have no such "fall" policy here - no one does that kind of work, so our "local" policy cannot apply. (Whether we SHOULD have one is a different topic.)
    2. Certainly his company has a policy about this. They're roofers, for God's sake.
    3. If he falls and breaks his neck, who is OSHA going to interview?

    Answer: Not us. His boss is responsible for him wherever he goes.

    Is it his boss's fault he didn't follow policy? Maybe. Do they review it annually? Is there a clear procedure in place for violators? Do they violate it daily, and the boss has seen this "onsite" and said nothing?

    Just "having" a policy written down is, apparently, not adequate. It needs trained, taught, followed and enforced - and all of that is the boss's problem, wherever in the world the employee goes.

    Just saying, "Well, he knew the policy and didn't follow it," is not gonna get it.

    Now, I am not a lawyer. I would love to hear from someone who has either been in this situation (and the resolution) or someone who knows if my description is accurate. We can all speculate and theorize, but I'm
    hoping an OSHA expert will swing by...

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CEDEng View Post
    3. If he falls and breaks his neck, who is OSHA going to interview?

    Answer: Not us. His boss is responsible for him wherever he goes.
    WRONG! OSHA is going to interview EVERYBODY and read the contracts. Under OSHA's multi-employer policy, if the roofer's working for you, you become citable as the controlling contractor. You have a responsibility for ensuring that your contractors obey the law. The question isn't whether so-and-so had a policy, the question is whether they obeyed the regulations. Working unprotected 30 ft. above concrete is a violation.

    If you are not the general contractor who hired the roofer, it doesn't end there. Although Workers' Comp is the "exclusive remedy" for employees, the next question is whether your company wants to be sued by the deceased's survivors. (Whether or not you'll win is irrelevant, because defending against the suit is an expense in itself, even if the expense is initially borne by the insurance company.)

    Finally, does your company want the local TV station camped out in front of your building while emergency services remove the corpse and OSHA investigates.

    OSHA may be the least of your problems.

  7. #17
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    OSHA's jurisdiction is based on the location of the workplace/accident, not the location of the employer. If an employer is in the USA but the workplace where an accident occurs is outside OSHA's jurisdiction (Egypt, for example), then OSHA will not be involved. If a foreign employer has workers operating in the USA, then OSHA will have jurisdiction over those operations even though the employer is not based here. An employer can enforce whatever safety rules it wants, in any jurisdiction, as a condition of employment. A facility can also require employees of contractors to follow its own safety rules. The workers must then follow both their own employer's rules and also the facility's rules. If they conflict with each other (so that it is impossible to satisfy both sets of rules at once), then the contractor and facility owner would need to agree on a solution to that problem. The law alone won't resolve that dispute. Regardless of whose rules were followed, the employer is on the hook to ensure that the policies meet OSHA minimum requirements if the work is being done within OSHA's jurisdiction (USA and its territories).

    Now, with all of that said, OSHA appears to be attempting to assert jurisdiction over some foreign activity by American workers employed by American companies. Several sources (including the actual statutes defining OSHA's jurisdiction) strongly indicate that OSHA should not have jurisdiction over any activity outside the USA. Even OSHA issued an opinion in 1999 which explicitly said they don't cover foreign jobsites. But then in 2012 they asserted jurisdiction in exactly that situation. I have not done the detailed research to determine what the basis for that position was, or what the outcome has been - I'd need to be working for an actual client to spend the time on that!


    I am a lawyer, but this is not a formal legal opinion and is not intended as legal advice for anyone to rely on. This is just a hypothetical internet discussion.
    Last edited by mpoulton; 03-29-17 at 08:13 PM.

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