OSHA Issues First Enforcement Action Press Release Since Start of Trump Administration
Until day 82 of the Trump Administration, renewed partnerships and “guidance” for employers to improve workplace safety have been the subjects of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s announcements. On April 12, 2017, OSHA announced that it has cited Atlantic Drain of Boston for willful, repeat, serious, and other-than-serious violations of workplace safety standards and is proposing $1,475,813 in penalties for those violations.
OSHA said in its press release that the employer failed to provide adequate safety training and basic safeguards for employees, causing an accident in which two employees died. According to OSHA, an approximately 12-foot deep trench in which the employees were working collapsed, breaking an adjacent fire hydrant supply line and filling the trench with water in seconds, claiming the men’s lives.
Prior to the announcement of the enforcement action against the Boston company, OSHA’s public statements during the Trump Administration mainly included announcements related to safety programs and education. For example, in its first announcement under the new administration, on February 23, 2017, OSHA said it renewed a partnership with the Allied Construction Industries, a trade association representing more than 500 member companies, to protect construction industry workers through increased training, daily work shift safety meetings, safety orientations, and stand-downs designed to increase worker’s knowledge of hazards, required safety procedures, protective measures, and equipment.
Other examples include “Quick Card” and “Guidance” publications that offered employers safety advice in such areas as protecting workers from slips, trips, and falls during disaster responses and process safety management for explosives and pyrotechnics, small business, and storage facilities.