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Department of Labor 68 articles

osha accused of mismanaging whistleblower protection program

The federal whistleblower protection program that is supposed to serve 200 million U.S. workers is languishing under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s authority and should be removed, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. The GAO report admonished OSHA leadership for its inattention to the whistleblower program and recommended that it be elevated to its own separate office. The GAO’s recommendation jibes with the calls of whistleblower support organizations, such as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which has petitioned Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to turn the program into its own office within the Department of Labor. Entitled ... Read More

Government agencies work to combat job safety hazards behind the wheel

Earlier this month we posted on workplace safety and how most on-the-job fatalities actually occur behind the wheel. Transportation accidents accounted for 40 percent of all workplace fatalities last year, and they have been a leading cause of on-the-job deaths for the last 18 consecutive years. In an effort to address this safety problem more effectively, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has teamed up with the Department of Transportation to combat distracted driving. Distracted driving, mainly the use of cell phones while behind the wheel, has emerged as a significant safety threat in the last decade, and it’s a ... Read More

BP received back-to-back record OSHA fines before Gulf oil spill

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit BP Products North America Inc. with nearly $90 million in penalties less than nine months ago for the company’s failure to correct an array of safety violations that threatened the lives and health of its workers. The fine, which OSHA announced on October 30 of last year, was the largest in the agency’s history. According to OSHA’s website, prior to the $87,430,000 fine, the largest penalty issued by the agency was $21 million. That fine, issued in 2005, was also levied against BP. OSHA issued the fine for safety violations found at BP’s ... Read More

OSHA provides training and guides for oil-spill workers

For more than 6 weeks, many residents of the Gulf Coast have become impromptu BP employees, cleaning up a toxic oil spill that threatens to ruin their communities and their livelihoods. Because most of the cleanup workers are not intimately familiar with the dangers of crude oil, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created a safety guide and fact sheet, which it is distributing by the thousands to workers throughout the Gulf Coast. Before workers are set out in the Gulf to deal with the oil spill, they must undergo OSHA-required training. The safety guides and fact ... Read More

Wife of Chicago construction worker killed on job sues

The wife of an ironworker killed while working on a water reclamation project has filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking unspecified damages in excess of $50,000, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune. According to the Tribune, Jose Meza was operating a skid steer loader, a small, highly maneuverable vehicle with lift arms and interchangeable attachments, when his body harness became entangled with the machine. Meza was thrown to the ground and crushed to death when the machine rolled on top of him. The incident occurred in November of last year while Meza was working on a construction project at ... Read More

Scaffold collapses, killing one Alabama worker and injuring another

A Cullman, Alabama, man died Tuesday afternoon after falling on the scene of a construction site. Authorities said that Kenneth Ball, 51, a contractor and resident of Cullman, was installing a window on the fourth floor of a construction project when his scaffolding collapsed. According to Cullman County Coroner Gary Murphree, the accident, which occurred around 11 a.m. in the Vinemont area, left Ball with massive head and body trauma. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Another worker who has not been identified sustained injuries when the scaffolding fell and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. To ... Read More

New Orleans is ‘Ground Zero’ of national wage theft epidemic

Hurricane Katrina, a powerful storm surge, and a system of inadequate levies teamed up in 2005 to create an unprecedented level of disaster in the United States. In the wake that followed, New Orleans (along with many other coastal communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama) resembled a sea of destruction. New Orleans relied heavily on day laborers to clean up, repair, and rebuild. Sadly, however, recent surveys found that 80% of the Hispanic workers had been cheated out of compensation. The rampant injustice plaguing manual laborers compelled New Orleans City Council President Arnie Fielkow to promote an ordinance that would ... Read More

Nashville workers settle FLSA complaint against employer

A Nashville car wash company has reached a settlement with three employees who claim they weren’t paid for several hours of work. The minimum-wage employees sued Shur-Brite Hi Speed Car Wash, alleging the company’s owners clocked them in and out throughout the day, depending on how busy their work shifts were. The agreed settlement for $130,000 will be distributed among 120 employees, who, like the plaintiffs, weren’t being paid for hours spent on the job. According to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, compensable hours include all the time that an employee is required to be on the ... Read More

Teddy bear company cited for FLSA child labor violations

Build-A-Bear-Workshop Inc. is listed on Fortune’s 2009 list of the “100 Best Companies to Work for,” but the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division disagrees — at least where the company’s youngest employees are concerned. The government agency cited the St. Louis-based company for violations of child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and ordered it to pay $25,600 in civil penalties. Build-A-Bear Workshop, an international retailer with more than 400 locations worldwide, allows customers to design and create their own teddy bears. The Wage and Hour Division found that many Build-A-Bear’s Midwestern retail locations violated ... Read More

Teenager’s death leads to multiple FLSA and OSHA fines for Georgia company

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and hour Division has ordered a Suwanee, Georgia-based demolition company to pay a steep penalty for violating child labor laws after a teenage employee died on the work site. The teenager, an employee of Demon Demo Inc., was working on a demolition site at Macy’s in the Gwinnett Place Mall when he fell from the third story of the building. The boy had been tossing debris off the building when he fell. The fine was the first one issued by the Wage and Hour Division under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 – ... Read More