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Employer defense effective in challenging OSHA citations

Employers are required to follow certain work safety regulations when they hire employees in California. This helps to minimize the risk of an employee being hurt in a workplace accident, which can result in an injured worker claim. However, even when an employer complies with necessary safety measures, an employee can still end up being hurt or even killed in an unfortunate incident that could require employer defense.

This is what one employer found out following a workplace accident that resulted in citations being issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The incident happened in May 2009 when an employee was working with a metal lathe. Somehow while the employee was working with the machinery, a 12-pound metal piece came loose from the machine and ended up striking the employee in the head. This resulted in the death of the worker and also citations issued by OSHA for seven alleged violations.

OSHA had fined the employer $70,000 for each violation of machine guarding standards required by OSHA. However, the employer ended up challenging the OSHA citations, arguing that there was a barrier guard on the lathe at the time of the incident. The case ended up going to the federal court of appeals, where the court ruled that OSHA regulations were intended to avoid routine accidents and not catastrophic accidents that cause the ejection of entire pieces of metal from the machinery. The court ruled that the employer had indeed been in compliance with safety regulations.

This case illustrates how even when an employer is following the rules regarding work safety, the employer can still end up being cited by OSHA for alleged violations in California. However, the case also shows how effective a strong employer defense strategy can be in protecting the legal rights of an employer. This can help to minimize financial liabilities and losses resulting from a workplace accident.

Source:, "Catastrophic Accident Resulted in a Workplace Fatality ??? Does Not Automatically Mean There was an OSHA Violation", Daniel A. Kaplan, October 26, 2015

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