As most employers know, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) is actively changing and expanding the regulatory framework. Whether subject to oversight by U.S. Department of Labor or by a “state plan”, the evolving laws impact virtually every employer and workplace in the country. These changes vary and include everything from an employer’s administrative responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to developments in OSHA regulations that have a significant impact on how employees must actually execute performance of their work. By staying engaged with and informed of these trends, we successfully assist our clients in maintaining compliance, which in turn helps them reduce experience modifiers, lost time incident rates, negative citation history and other statistics that are extremely important in today’s workplace.
Munsch Hardt’s OSHA attorneys are counselors, advisors, negotiators, trial lawyers and appellate advocates to a number of companies in Texas and throughout the United States. Employers, large and small, and across all industry sectors, seek our team’s assistance in proactively addressing the health and safety issues they face before OSHA enters the workplace, by both being advised by the team of significant regulatory developments and by being informed of enforcement trends. Likewise, our team represents employers in OSHA investigations and defense of Citations and Notifications of Penalty following OSHA inspections. In particular, we have deep experience representing both onshore and offshore drilling and service companies and other energy clients in connection with internal investigations, OSHA inspections and in defending against citations and penalties before the Occupational Safety Health Review Commission (OSHRC).
Our Munsch Hardt OSHA Practice Group provides the following services:
- Litigation – When clients receive an OSHA Citation and Notification of Penalty, our team steps in to evaluate whether it’s better to settle or litigate. For those cases where litigation is the best option, Munsch Hardt offers the experience and skills required to help clients put up their best defense. Our attorneys have extensive experience before the OSHA Review Commission, comparable state agencies and federal courts, and we have handled numerous cases involving allegations of willful or repeated violations with proposed penalties in excess of $1 MM.
- Compliance Counseling – For clients with questions about their safety programs or on how to comply with OSHA standards, Munsch Hardt regularly counsels clients in a variety of industries on these issues. We are accustomed to holding training sessions for clients on issues including how to manage an OSHA inspection, best practices for drafting incident reports, and preparing for an NEP inspection. We also assist clients with compliance issues by conducting compliance audits to identify existing OSHA violations. We also conduct attorney-client privileged internal audits in response to complaints, and we work with company personnel and technical experts in conducting privileged investigations following major catastrophes or employee fatalities.
- OSHA Inspections – Munsch Hardt attorneys have the experience you need as you interact with OSHA during an inspection. The time during OSHA’s inspection is critical for employers who want to minimize the number and severity of the citations they may receive. During the inspection, we work with employers to ensure they clearly communicate with OSHA and avoid misunderstandings that could lead to additional citations.
- Catastrophe Management – Because a major incident almost always involves investigations by numerous government agencies, Munsch Hardt attorneys help manage multi-agency inspections and handle the litigation that often follows catastrophic incidents. We have managed a number of these instances, and we have dealt with numerous government agencies simultaneously - OSHA, EPA, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), for example, and local law enforcement and fire departments. We have worked extensively with our clients to develop both corporate and facility-wide strategies to help control liabilities during these times of crisis. We also provide advice during these times on issues such as preserving evidence under a litigation hold, negotiating evidence and site-control agreements, and communicating with the work force while the crisis is managed.