Time is of the essence in health and safety and we provide immediate assistance and counseling onsite following major catastrophic events. You can turn to us for legal counseling for post-accident investigations and interviews, defense of civil and criminal governmental enforcement actions and employee intentional tort actions, including wrongful death. We can also advise you on insurance coverage, and customer, workforce, community and media relations. We help with workplace safety and health compliance obligations, such as RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations), COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health), COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards), OSHA and MSHA compliance and reporting, Process Safety Management (PSM), air contaminants, medical surveillance and monitoring, and hazard communication. Our lawyers believe in educating clients’ management teams about the thought processes, strategies and responses needed to minimize liability risks.
The safety and health of employees continues to be a major cause of concern for every business. From heavy manufacturing to professional services, employers today face potential exposure ranging from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections and incident response to workers’ compensation issues and intentional tort litigation.
We combine our extensive experience in all facets of employee safety and health laws and requirements with our broad expertise in the areas of environmental exposure and toxic tort defense to provide a comprehensive approach to workplace safety and health issues. Our collaborative approach allows us to draw from the sophisticated expertise of both our labor and employment, and environmental safety and health lawyers who understand the underlying regulatory requirements, appreciate the complexities of labor relations, and have experience successfully defending and litigating OSHA citations, Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) proceedings, and employee wrongful death and intentional tort cases. We also have extensive experience defending Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) orders and enforcement actions involving worker safety in connection with the transportation of hazardous liquids and other materials.
Crisis Management, Incident Response and Investigation
We have experience in providing immediate assistance and counseling on site following major catastrophic events involving worker safety, including worker fatalities and large accidents, explosions, fires or major releases. We have provided the full range of legal representation and counseling in conjunction with post-accident investigations and interviews by OSHA, PHMSA, the US Department of Transportation, state fire marshal’s office, and state bureaus of workers’ compensation. We have also assisted clients in developing appropriate media and government relations plans immediately following such events in light of the substantial risk of subsequent enforcement claims and other legal action.
We have also provided counseling in connection with lesser incidents, particularly with respect to notification obligations, serving as the liaison with OSHA and other governmental agencies, labor unions and others, and ensuring prompt and thorough investigations including witness interviews and proper evidence preservation.
We routinely assist clients in responding to OSHA citations. No matter the severity of the matter – from a citation that can be resolved with minimal legal assistance at the informal conference stage to an enforcement action being aggressively pursued by the government – we have the experience necessary to protect your business interests, including:
- Negotiating reduced penalties and practical abatement measures at the informal conference stage, including the re-classification of violations “down” from willful, repeat or serious, and filing Notices of Contest with the OSHRC when early resolution cannot be achieved.
- Defending against formal civil enforcement actions brought by the Department of Labor, including participation in court-ordered mediation and defending clients placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program or otherwise targeted for corporate-wide, multi-plant and multi-state enforcement.
- Defending against claims of egregious safety-related violations, including grand jury investigations and potential criminal charges.
- We also have participated in informal hearings and petitions before PHMSA and other federal agencies, and have defended our Ohio clients in administrative hearings and appeals before the Ohio Industrial Commission including with respect to Violations of Specific Safety Regulations (VSSR). Additionally, we have experience responding to anonymous complaints and have counseled clients with regard to whistleblower protections.
Employee Intentional Tort Litigation
We have defended numerous clients against employee intentional tort actions, including wrongful death cases. We also regularly defend manufacturing and industrial clients in individual, mass tort and class action cases based upon alleged exposure to various chemicals, including lead, PCBs, asbestos, PFOA, manganese, sulfuric acid mist, vinyl chloride, hydrogen chloride and benzene, to name a few. We also have particular expertise with regard to Ohio’s new Employer Intentional Tort Statute.
Compliance Counseling and Assistance
We assist clients with a broad range of workplace safety and health compliance obligations, including:
- Process Safety Management (PSM) requirements for highly hazardous chemicals, including process hazard analyses and emergency response plans
- Exposure to air contaminants
- Medical surveillance and monitoring
- Hazard communication
- Fall protection
- Confined space entry
- Crane operations
- Electrical safety
- Personal protective equipment
- Asbestos notification and removal requirements
Our lawyers also have experience in the development, implementation and certification of safety and health management systems to the OHSAS 18001 standard. We have assisted with internal auditing protocols, root-cause analyses, development of corrective/preventive measures and 5S practices.
Our workers’ compensation clients range from Fortune 500 companies to medium and small employers, including both self-insured and state-fund employers. Our services include:
- Representing clients in all administrative and court proceedings encompassing all defense issues related to occupational diseases, workplace exposure, workplace injuries, safety code violations, and subrogation. Our workers’ compensation lawyers have significant trial experience and have tried more than 100 cases to verdict.
- Advising on the full range of insurance issues, including self-insurance regulations, effects of mergers and acquisitions, noncomplying employers and reinsurance.