Houston OSHA Law Blog

How to Avoid Being Hit with a Retaliation Claim

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) encourages workers to speak up when they feel that safety is being compromised in a workplace, and OSHA comes down hard on employers who are accused of retaliating against workers who do come forward.

If a worker believes that he or she has been retaliated against, the worker can file a claim with OSHA, which will then begin an investigation. An OSHA investigation can be time-consuming, expensive and reputation damaging, which is why it's something that employers should try to avoid.

In order to avoid being accused of retaliating against a worker, it's important to understand what retaliation means.

The Importance of Employee Training and Document Retention

Having a Plan (And Using It) Is Crucial to Employee Safety

You should have a narrowly tailored Employee Health and Safety Plan for your business. You should also have an understanding as to how to use the plan on an ongoing basis. These two items are crucial to maintaining employee safety. Training your employees and subcontractors how to work safely and meet the safety requirements of your Employee Health and Safety Plan - a plan that should include proper documentation of that training - should take high priority.

Is Your Employee Health & Safety Plan Adequate?

The premise of this article assumes that you already have an Employee Health and Safety Plan in place. If you do not, you may want to evaluate your need for such a plan to first protect your employees and second hedge your bets against an OSHA job-site inspection. Having a Health and Safety Plan that covers the operations of your business is not a guarantee that OSHA will not inspect your job-sites, but it is an invaluable tool in determining the outcome of an OSHA investigation.

Why your work site needs a job safety analysis (JSA)

A job safety analysis (JSA) is a technique that helps supervisors,employees and safety professionals identify job hazards before they occur. If jobs at your work site pose hazards or potential safety hazards, they can benefit from a JSA. Having a JSA can prevent or reduce the risk of serious accidents in jobs that feature hazards or potential safety hazards.

Creating a JSA is a three-step process. Anyone who is involved in implementing a job or task should be involved in its creation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends the following process:

How you can improve your business's fire safety training

The risk of a workplace fire is not something anyone can take lightly. Despite this, fire safety training is often thrown in during orientation for new employees. Your workplace fire safety program should not be relegated to one item on a long list of paperwork and orientation meetings. By boosting your safety training, you can prevent it from getting lost in the shuffle.

As a recent article in Occupational Health & Safety magazine points out, effective fire safety training is especially important for new employees because they can often be more easily influenced. Once an employee has settled into a position, it may harder to create new safety habits.

What's the best eye protection for employees?

Eyes are easily damaged, and not just from blows to the head. A trace of chemical or a speck of metal is all that's required for a serious eye injury and a visit from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors.

Because of this danger, OSHA requires eye and face protection for workers whose eyes could be harmed by chemicals, dangerous liquids, molten metals, damaging light radiation or other hazards. Fortunately, safety glasses are one of the easiest protections you can provide for your employees.

New rules for reporting accidents start Jan. 1, 2015

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has specific rules for when employers must report severe injuries and deaths from work-related accidents. Starting in January, those rules will change.

Currently, employers must notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours. Employers must also report in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees.

Protecting oil and gas workers from hand injuries and other hazards

The oil and gas industry is booming in Texas and throughout the U.S. According to Occupational Health & Safety Magazine, employment in this industry is up 60 percent since 2009. That means thousands more workers in oilfields, transportation and refineries, in jobs that are often far more dangerous than those found at a typical workplace. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found the fatality rate in the oil and gas industry to be almost eight times the national average.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists numerous hazards that oil and gas workers may face on a daily basis, including:

  • Falls
  • Explosions and fires
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Being struck by or caught in or between machinery or objects
  • Electrical hazards
  • High pressure lines and equipment