Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), a 3-Commisioner panel appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate which hears appeals of contested OSHA cases, issued two decisions vacating OSHA’s citations and one decision reclassifying a willful violation to a serious violation and reducing the penalty from $49,000 to just $3500. These decisions signal a trend toward holding OSHA and the Department of Labor accountable for the citations they issue to employers for alleged safety and health violations. The three decisions all involve citations for machine guarding, which is a common hazard cited by OSHA in manufacturing and other industries. All three decisions were unanimous, which is significant given the makeup of OSHRC—two pro-employer Commissioners (Sullivan and Leihow) and one pro-employee Commissioner (Atwood).
In Aerospace Testing Alliance, the tip of an employee’s finger was crushed while operating a power shear in