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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez

News Brief

Administrative court sets precedent, allowing request for enterprise-wide hazard abatement by employer to proceed to trial

Date of action: Dec. 7, 2015

Type of action: Order denying respondent's motion

Names of defendant: Central Transport LLC

Background: An Administrative Law judge has decided that the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission may have authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to order abatement measures sought by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration beyond the specific violations OSHA identified in its citations.

OSHA cited Central Transport LLC in November 2014 for 14 violations of workplace safety and health standards at the freight hauler's Billerica, Massachusetts, shipping terminal. A total of $330,800 in fines was proposed. Central Transport filed a notice of contest with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in December of that year and litigation commenced.

In its complaint to the commission, the Labor Department alleged that Central Transport failed to comply with the OSHA standards for the safety of powered industrial trucks at locations other than the inspected worksite, and requested an order compelling Central Transport to comply with the powered industrial truck standard at all its locations. Central Transport then filed a motion asking the commission to strike the department's claim for enterprise-wide abatement, arguing that the Occupational Safety and Health Act does not permit it.

Decision: Administrative Law Judge Carol A. Baumerich denied Central Transport's motion, holding that the Occupational Safety and Health Act's provision authorizing the remedy of "other appropriate relief" provides the basis for allowing the department's claim for enterprise-wide abatement, at all locations where like violations exist, to proceed to trial. Judge Baumerich also denied Central Transport's request for a discovery and litigation stay of the claim for enterprise-wide abatement, finding that such a stay would jeopardize the litigation of the department's claim for enterprise-wide abatement. The full order can be viewed here.

Quote: "Judge Baumerich's order is significant and precedent-setting. This is the first decision by an OSHA Administrative Law Judge expressly finding that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission may have the authority under the OSH Act to order abatement measures beyond the specific violations identified in the citations. The department is now authorized to proceed with discovery and to demonstrate, by presenting its evidence at trial, that enterprise-wide abatement is merited on the facts of this case," said Michael Felsen, the regional solicitor of labor for New England.

"When an employer has hazards occurring at multiple locations, common sense and reasonable worker protection law enforcement both dictate that the employer take corrective action to safeguard the health and well-being of employees at all its worksites," said Kim Stille, OSHA's regional administrator for New England.

The original inspection was conducted by OSHA's Andover Area Office. The case is being litigated for OSHA by attorney Scott Miller of the regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston.

Background: Central Transport LLC is a privately owned, full-service, asset-based transportation provider offering supply chain solutions across North America. The company provides regional; inter-regional and long-haul, less-than-truckload services; cross-docking; consolidation and pool distribution services, as well as customized value-added services. Based in Warren, Michigan, Central Transport operates nearly 200 customer service centers and facilities in 45 states and Canadian provinces.

Court: U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

Docket Numbers: 14-1452; 14-1612; 14-1934

OSHA News Brief: [12/23/2015]
Contact Name: Scott Allen or Rhonda Burke or Ted Fitzgerald
Phone Number: (312) 465-6699 or (312) 353-6976 or (617) 565-2075
Email:
Allen.Scott@dol.gov or Burke.Rhonda@dol.gov or Fitzgerald.Edmund@dol.gov
Release Number: 15-2463-BOS