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Hilda Solis 8 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

New crane safety regulations take effect this fall

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced new rule today addressing the use of cranes and derricks in construction, replacing a decades-old standard that left construction sites throughout the country tragically unsafe. According to the Labor Department, crane and derrick accidents kill 100 people on average every year in the U.S. A single crane collapse on East 51st in Manhattan left seven people dead two years ago. Later that same year, another crane fell into an apartment building in New York’s Upper East Side, killing two workers and injuring others. The new rule published today is designed to prevent the ... 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

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

Solis works to revamp and empower Wage and Hour Division

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, under which the Fair Labor Standards Act came into existence in 1938 as part of a nationwide effort to protect working class citizens from corporate exploitation and abuse, may be on the mend after an long era of being little more than a bureaucratic entity. In March, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced her intentions to revamp and empower the Wage and Hour Division, saying that she would increase the Division’s staff size by a third in an effort to “refocus the agency on [its] enforcement responsibilities.” The addition of new field investigators, ... Read More

California maid company fined for ignoring 2007 ruling

Violating the rules of employment set forth in the Fair Labor Standards Act can be an expensive way to do business. In August of 2007, a federal judge in the U.S. Central District Court for California in Santa Ana ordered Southern California Maid Services Inc. to pay nearly $3.5 million in back wages and another $1 million in liquidated damages to 385 of its employees. The court ruled that by improperly classifying their workers as independent contractors, Sergio Maldonado and Lorenza Rubio, the company owners, avoided paying minimum wage and overtime, which the FLSA requires. Then, last week, after finding ... Read More