Hendershot Cowart P.C. is one of Texas' leading authorities on OSHA defense law. We have protected countless businesses from the severe fines and penalties that often follow a work accident and OSHA inspection. Our understanding of their legal weaponry equips us to mount an effective defense on your behalf.
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If your employee has been injured in an accident on your premises, do not wait – call Hendershot Cowart P.C. as soon as possible. Our Houston OSHA law attorneys will arrive at your work site as soon as possible to prepare you for your inspection. With OSHA, it always pays to act as quickly as possible.
Our team can begin building your defense before OSHA arrives. We can conduct interviews of your employees and managers, doing everything we can within the law to protect your business. Our proactive investigation will make defending against potential citations far more likely to succeed.
Possible Defenses in Your Case Include:
- If the accident was a result of employee misconduct
- If the accident was not in the scope of employment
- If the wrong employer was cited due to confusion based on the contractors at a job site
- If compliance with the safety standard would expose employees to a greater risk
You have the right to contest your citation before an administrative judge, which could remove it from your record or lower the level of its classification. Without either possibility, your business stands to lose more than money.
Serious OSHA violations subject businesses to enhanced penalties, including larger fines, more frequent inspections, and severe damage to a business’ reputation. This is all a result of the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, an initiative that enrolls violators into a list of businesses with certain citations on their record.
Of over 400 employers on the SVEP list, 49 closed their worksites, 23 dissolved entirely, and 46 discontinued the process that was cited. What makes these citations truly damaging is that once a citation puts you on the SVEP list, you’re far more vulnerable to future citations—each of which will demand larger fines.
Often, when discussing an OSHA citation with a potential client, we are asked, “Will OSHA consider hiring an attorney an act of hostility or an admission of guilt?” The answer is no. OSHA will not make negative assumptions if you hire an attorney.
“Conversely,” says Managing Shareholder Trey Hendershot, “OSHA will consider hiring an attorney as a sign that you are taking the matter seriously and intend to proactively work to resolve the matter.”
Working with an attorney experienced with OSHA standards and processes can help you avoid mistakes that may create a hostile environment, such as denying an OSHA inspector access to your facility or failing to produce appropriate documentation. At the same time, your attorney will protect your rights and help you avoid unnecessary risks.
Correctly handled, contesting an OSHA citation can reduce the severity of the violation and the penalties associated with the citation. Beyond monetary fines, OSHA citations come with hidden consequences that can have far-reaching impact, such as the cost of correcting the hazard, reputational harm, loss of future contracts, increased OSHA oversight, insurance premium increases and exposure to civil litigation.
An experienced OSHA defense attorney can guide you through the OSHA reporting process, inspections, and investigations to proactively reduce the likelihood of a citation. If a citation is issued, an attorney can prepare your defense strategy and help you negotiate and/or contest the citation.
Here are just a few ways an OSHA defense attorney can intervene on your behalf:
- An OSHA defense attorney can control and manage all interactions with OSHA representatives to protect your rights and preserve your options.
- If there has been a worksite incident, we can guide you through reporting the injury and supplying the correct information without unnecessarily or inadvertently exposing yourself to liability.
- After reporting an injury, our OSHA defense team can help you manage the flow of documents to OSHA, ensuring that documents are complete and on time – because not having a required document can be more damaging than an incomplete one.
- We can observe OSHA’s walkaround after the incident to assess areas of exposure and potential violations.
- An attorney can prepare employees and managers for investigative interviews and advise them of their legal rights.
- After the inspection, an OSHA defense lawyer can work with OSHA to resolve any questions about the work site and help reduce the chances that a citation will be issued.
- If your business falls under the authority of other agencies, such as the Food & Drug Administration, you may face more than one government investigation. Our team of regulatory experts can coordinate the investigations of all agencies on your behalf.
- If you are ready to contest an OSHA citation, your attorney can make sure you adhere to deadlines and follow the correct process.
- Contesting an OSHA citation is an administrative law procedure with many of the rules and procedures as a lawsuit in civil court. It is wise to have an attorney who is familiar with the due process, especially when going before an Administrative Law Judge.
With the help of experienced OSHA defense attorneys, your business will have a more controlled and carefully managed response to the situation at hand, while we advise you on compliance issues with state and federal laws.
Because each communication you have with OSHA, including the initial injury report, can influence the agency’s decision on how to proceed, it is never too early to seek guidance. Contact an OSHA defense attorney immediately following a workplace incident or OSHA inspection.
Contact our experienced OSHA citation defense team at Hendershot Cowart P.C. to protect your business from the severities of an OSHA citation. Call (713) 909-7323 to get started
Does OSHA Apply to All Employers?
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) covers most – but not all – employers and employees in the United States. In some cases, it depends on whether your state is covered by Federal OSHA, like Texas, or an OSHA-approved State Plan.
Federal OSHA vs. State OSHA Plans
Federal OSHA covers most private sector employers and workers in 29 states, the District of Columbia, and other territories. Private sector workers in the remaining 21 states and Puerto Rico are covered by OSHA-approved State Plans.
State Plans are OSHA-approved workplace safety and health programs operated by individual states instead of Federal OSHA.
The following 22 states or territories have OSHA-approved state programs that cover both private sector and state and local government workers:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
Which Employers Are Covered By OSHA?
OSHA regulations apply to these employers with exceptions noted:
- Most Private Employers: OSHA applies to most private employers in the United States. This includes businesses, non-profit organizations, and corporations. Whether you have a small business or a large company, you are generally subject to OSHA regulations. Exceptions to State Plan private sector coverage is listed on each OSHA-approved State Plan’s web page.
- State and Local Government Employers: Employees at state and local government agencies fall outside the scope of federal OSHA coverage but are protected if they work in states that have OSHA-approved state programs.
- Federal Employers: OSHA’s protection applies to all federal agencies. Although OSHA does not fine federal agencies, it monitors these agencies and conducts federal workplace inspections in response to workers’ reports of hazards.
- Employee Thresholds: Some OSHA requirements may apply differently based on the number of employees at a workplace. For example, businesses with ten or fewer employees may be exempt from certain record-keeping requirements, but they are still required to provide a workplace that is free from serious recognized health or safety hazards.
- Temporary and Seasonal Workers: OSHA regulations apply to temporary and seasonal workers. Both the host employer and the staffing agency that provide the workers share responsibility for their health and safety.
- Independent Contractors: If an independent contractor is self-employed and has no employees working for them, OSHA has no authority over that individual. The employer hiring the independent contractor, however, is still responsible for protecting its employees from any potential hazards created by the self-employed contractor. While OSHA has no authority over a self-employed independent contractor, the employer can contractually bind the contractor to adhere to safety requirements and standards.
- Agriculture: OSHA regulations apply to most aspects of agriculture, but there are certain exemptions for small farming operations and family farms. Farm workers who work for an immediate family member on a farm that does not hire outside employees are not covered by OSHA.
- Maritime and Longshore Work: Federal OSHA covers maritime and longshore workers. Most State Plans, however, do not cover maritime employment. Check your state’s OSHA program to see if it includes maritime workers.
Which Employees Are Not Covered by OSHA?
Self-employed workers are not covered by OSHA. Neither are farm workers who work for an immediate family member on a farm that does not hire outside employees.
Workers whose safety is regulated by another federal agency are also not subject to OSHA regulations. This includes, for example, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Coast Guard, and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Does OSHA Protect the General Public from Employer Activities?
OSHA's regulations apply only to the employer-employee relationship and not to employer activities that can affect the general public. State, County, or City public safety and health authorities are responsible for regulating and protecting public safety.
Which Employers Are Most Often Cited by OSHA?
Federal OSHA and its state partners are responsible for the safety of nearly 8 million worksites and 130 million workers. Because the agency covers so many employers and worksites, it is unable to inspect every worksite.
As a result, some types of employers are more likely to have dealings with OSHA than others, especially employers whose workers are exposed to hazards such as falls, heavy equipment, or confined spaces. Our law firm has found that inspections are more common for employers who work in plants or facilities and who are in the construction, manufacturing, and transportation/warehousing industries.
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