Enterprise-Wide Abatement Case Heading to Trial

Administrative Law Judge Carol A. Baumerich ruled that the OSH Act's provision authorizing the remedy of "other appropriate relief" allows the department's claim for enterprise-wide abatement at all locations where such violations exist to proceed to trial.

OSHA announced Dec. 23 that an administrative law judge has set a precedent by allowing a request for enterprise-wide hazard abatement by an employer to proceed to trial. The judge denied Central Transport LLC's motion in a case stemming from OSHA's citing the company in November 2014 for 14 violations of workplace safety and health standards at the freight hauler's Billerica, Mass., shipping terminal. OSHA proposed $330,800 in fines in the case. Central Transport filed a notice of contest with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in December 2014.

The judge decided that OSHRC may have authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to order abatement measures sought by OSHA, beyond the specific violations OSHA has identified in its the citations.

DOL, in its complaint to the commission, alleged Central Transport failed to comply with the OSHA standard for the safety of powered industrial trucks at locations other than the inspected site and requested an order compelling Central Transport to comply with the standard at all of 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.

Judge Carol A. Baumerich denied that motion, holding that the OSH Act's provision authorizing the remedy of "other appropriate relief" allows the department's claim for enterprise-wide abatement at all locations where such violations exist to proceed to trial.

"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.

Central Transport LLC is a privately owned transportation provider.

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