BOS 3525 – Legal Aspects of Safety and Health – Discussion Questions

 If OSHA  determines that an employer’s response to a non-formal complaint is adequate, what options does the employee filing the non-formal complaint have?

In case OSHA determines that an employer’s response to an employee’s non-formal complaint is adequate, the employee has two options. First, on receiving a copy of the employer’s response, the person can request for an on-site inspection if they are not satisfied(Repa & Guerin, 2014, p.196). Second, they can choose to file formal complaint in writing because OSHA is likely to perform an on-site inspection on receiving any formal complaint. Because a formal complaint normally involves reporting claims of serious physical harm or imminent danger situations, the complainant is supposed to cite the specific issue with preciseness in order to elicit a favorable response.

 

If the OSHA compliance officer requests documents that are not related to a formal complaint, what options do you believe the employer has?

If the OSHA compliance officer asks for documents that are not related to a formal complaint, the employer can refer back to the OSHA standards in order to know what action to take.It is important to note that OSHA standards describe a formal complaint as a grievance that is made by one or more of the current employees or their representatives (Tai, 2000, p. 8). A formal complaint must also meet the following requirements: (1) it must be written or submitted in the form of an OSHA-7 from, (2) it must be signed by at least one of current employees or their representatives, and (3) must communicate of an imminent danger, violation of OSHA standards, or a violation of the act that exposes employees to one or more hazards at their place of work.

Therefore, if a compliance officer asks for documents that are not related to a formal complaint, I believe that the employer has the right to deny that request. They can call the nearest OSHA department to notify them of the request or askfor an informal conference to discuss the matter. Asking for documents that are not related to the formal complaint could mean that the officer is spying on the company or overstepping their jurisdiction.

 

Under what conditions can an employee be denied access to the opening conference, walk-around, and closing conference?

OSHA has many procedures it uses to inspect company premises and spaces. The inspection in such cases mostly involves the employees and in some parts the employer. The opening conference is when the compliance officer upon entry into the company premises decides to hold a quick meeting with the employees and then the management. An employee may be denied access if the employer requests so. An employee can further be denied entry into the various inspection areas the meetings if he is not part of the area being inspected. In such a case, he cannot provide the information needed by the inspected, and as such, he should not be around. It is only when the inspector carries out a full inspection and requires the participation of the entire workforce as consented by the company can such an employee attend. In the closing conference, the employee can be disallowed from participating if he or she is not part of a certain workstation that was being inspected (Bailey, 2015). In other cases where representatives are in place, the employee cannot be allowed to join the inspection. Furthermore, an employer can decide that such an employee should not be near the walk around or at the closing conference when the compliance officer is conducting the various checks at the facility.

Another instance will involve an uncooperative employee who does not obey the demands made by the compliance officer. Other conditions can include an employee who is sick and cannot be provided with the needed information (Roughton & Crutchfield, 2015). It is, therefore, important to note that most of the conditions that will affect the entry of the employ in an inspection area and the opening and closing conferences will result from the employer’s request, the workstation of an employee.

 

Can an employee request that an attorney or union representative attend a private conference with the compliance officer? If the union demands to have a representative present, does the employee have to comply?

OSHA guidelines help in determining the representation of an employee with the coordination of the employer and employee whenever possible. Employers should not allow union representatives into the private conference room unless there is an urgency requiring them to be there. Employees have the right to have representatives or other relevant persons to attend the interview like union representatives or legal. Counsel (Moran, 2011). If the compliance officer objects to that then the employee can refuse a private interview with the compliance officer.  For the union representative the employee decide whether they should be present or not. He or she has a decision to choose their representative.  An employee has a right to have a person of their choosing in the room. In this case, the person can be an attorney which compliance often object to most of the time. The employer can allow an attorney into the conference room whenever there is need. An attorney can be allowed in the conference room though OSHA officers object to such representation of the employee and the employer as it may raise a conflict of interest.

The legal counsel helps to shield the employer form certain questions, which should not be asked, and thus be on the lookout against any incriminating information. In such cases the employees will undergo training to ensure there rights especially where they are no supposed to do interviews absent their own consent (Schneid, 2011). The lawyer will provided legal counsel concerning the compliance process and further inform the employees to be ready should they be asked certain questions. An employee in having legal counsel will be able to deal with situations from the foresight and direction of the legal counsel and therefore in case of any accident that he or she was involved in at the workplace the lawyer will direct the interview with regard to protecting the client from self-incrimination.

Describe the role that Challenge Administrators play in the OSHA Challenge voluntary cooperative program

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers various cooperative programs under which, businesses, labor, groups and other organizations can work cooperatively with the agency to help prevent injuries, fatalities, and illnesses in the workplace. One of them is the OSHA Challenge Voluntary Cooperative Program which aims to provide the participants with an avenue to work with their assigned challenge administrators.

Essentially, the key role of the challenge administrators is to develop and improve the safety and health management programs of the challenge participants through training, progress-tracking and mentoring(Bennett & Deitch, 2010, p. 404). They are obligated to follow the program’s three-stage process which includes assessing, learning, and developing (Stage 1), implementing, tracking, and controlling(Stage 2), and reassessing, monitoring, and improving (Stage 3) the participant’s safety programs.

During the first stage, challenge administrators are responsible for educating the participants about elements that are necessary for the development and implementation of effective safety and health management programs. They then proceed to challenge participants to successfully complete and implement the developed policies in the second stage. Participants are expected to improve their programs as guided and begin to integrate policies for special trade contractor safety management program requirements. Lastly, the challenge administrators challenge them to continue reassessing, monitoring and improving their programs(Bennett&Deitch, 2007). After the completion of each stage, OSHA provides the challenge participants with letters of recognition.

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