Practice Areas & Industries: Fisher & Phillips LLP

 




Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Return to Practice Areas & Industries

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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Attorneys in this practice utilize all aspects of Fisher & Phillips' labor and employment expertise to provide practical guidance to employers to develop and maintain effective workplace safety and health management programs.

Our attorneys assist employers in responding to inspections, defending litigation, and managing workplace catastrophes. These attorneys draw upon extensive experience in representing employers before numerous entities, including OSHA and MSHA, state agencies, and related organizations such as the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms (ATF), state fire marshals, and others. Fisher & Phillips attorneys approach matters from a strategic standpoint and consider issues under the National Labor Relations Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and other relevant legal schemes.

Additionally, our attorneys assist employers to establish and implement substance abuse testing and prevention programs, as well as policies and procedures addressing violence in the workplace. The attorneys work with employers involved with workplace violence events to provide trauma response, counseling, and threat assessment, and we seek restraining orders and injunctions where appropriate against violent or threatening persons.

Our attorneys work closely with and manage outside firms and professionals, creating a unique multi-disciplinary approach to employee safety and health in the workplace. The practice services include:

Prevention, Preparedness and Enforcement

Prevention

Our attorneys assist employers with the overall development and legal review of safety and health management programs, with a special focus on self-audits and inspections, training, record-keeping, integration of safety programs with other employment policies and procedures, and efforts to minimize related civil liability and repeat citations. The attorneys consider issues associated with unionized settings and work with outside safety professionals and experts, often utilizing self-audits and inspections by such professionals to provide legal guidance that is covered by the attorney-client privilege. Attorneys utilize industry-specific experience to learn and meet a client's business needs.

Preparedness

Whether responding to a simple informal OSHA complaint, dealing with a full-blown MSHA, Federal or State-plan OSHA inspection, or a whistleblower investigation, our attorneys assist employers in determining areas of vulnerability, determining manager roles, and developing the process needed for response.

Enforcement

When MSHA, OSHA or other safety-related citations are issued, our attorneys help employers evaluate their position and minimize exposure to penalties and fines. We have broad experience in handling cases involving repeat or willful citations, corporate-wide investigations, whistleblower actions, construction and multi-employer settings, OSHA "Significant Cases" (cases with over $100,000 in fines), “Egregious Enforcement Program” (EEP) cases, and catastrophic and high visibility cases such as explosions, crane collapses, and employee fatality cases. Whether negotiating a settlement at an OSHA informal conference, or defending an employer in litigation before the Occupational Safety & Review Commission, our attorneys use their knowledge and experience to vigorously defend employers. We also coordinate with other counsel to provide OSHA and labor and employment advice in the context of criminal proceedings, construction disputes, and the civil litigation flowing from workplace catastrophes.

As in all areas of our labor and employment practice, we have developed cost effective strategies to manage large cases, as well as to provide guidance for smaller citations, often working with safety consultants and experts.

Abatement and correction issues arise after the issuance of safety citations, regardless of whether the citations are contested. Our attorneys provide assistance with ongoing OSHA abatement commitments, as well as providing assistance to employer efforts to improve safety, eliminate hazards, or comply with multi-year abatement or corporate obligations.

Catastrophe Management

Fisher & Phillips attorneys understand the confusion and the resulting quick response demanded by workplace catastrophes. Managing a catastrophe involves not only management of sophisticated legal issues, but also media relations, dealing with the families of the killed or injured employees, preparing for possible civil or criminal proceedings, and working with insurers, regulators, experts, and other involved parties.

Whistleblower Defense

Our attorneys assist employers in responding to claims under the 17 whistleblower laws administered by OSHA, as well as related state whistleblower laws.

Rulemaking

Fisher & Phillips represents employers and industry associations in preparing for the effects of new legislation or regulatory standards, as well as assisting with comments and involvement in rulemaking proceedings.