an in-trunk gun rack

Another Stohler Letter Could Restore Oklahoma's Gun Law

Acting OSHA Assistant Secretary Thomas Stohler provided a letter to ISEA recently that may help respirator manufacturers squelch thousands of tort claims against them in state courts. Stohler sent another letter Jan. 16 that was forwarded that day by Washington, D.C., lawyer Charles J. Cooper to 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Clerk Elisabeth Shumaker. Cooper's cover letter said the Stohler letter, an OSHA "statement of agency position" that says the OSH Act's general duty clause does not preempt the Oklahoma statute barring employers from banning employees' firearms from their premises, means a federal judge's 2007 ruling that the OSH Act preempts the state law should be reversed.

The case is Ramsey Winch, Inc. v. Henry, No. 07-5166. Stohler's four-page letter was addressed to Oklahoma State Sen. Jerry Ellis, who is the principal author of the state law. Oklahoma legislators passed it in 2004 after an employer in the state fired several workers who had guns in their locked vehicles in the employee parking lot. The law says employers in the state cannot bar employees from having weapons on site in this fashion.

Oklahoma does not have an OSHA state plan, and the OSH Act preempts all state laws when a federal standard governing the same issue is in effect, Stohler wrote. "Section 18 of the OSH Act specifically preserves the states' authority to regulate 'occupational safety and health issues' with respect to which no OSHA standard is in effect. Since no OSHA standard specifically governs the issue of the presence of firearms in vehicles in company parking lots, states generally retain broad authority regarding individual rights under the Second Amendment to the Constitution, or state equivalent constitutional provisions, as they affect employers within federal OSHA's jurisdiction," he wrote. He said the Oklahoma law and a similar law passed in Florida in 2008 "do not on their face pose a conflict with the general duty clause or purpose of the OSH Act. Gun-related violence is not a recognized occupational hazard in industry as a whole, under normal working conditions. Therefore, state laws protecting an employee's right to transport and store firearms in a locked car on employer premises would not on their face impede the employer's ability to comply with the general duty clause." He said in specific cases an employer policy restricting firearms might be needed to deal with a particular threat of armed violence, and then the employer could offer preemption under the general duty clause as a defense, but "the mere possibility that random antisocial acts uncharacteristic of employment could occur is not sufficient to establish a duty."

The case has been before the 10th Circuit since November 2007. One federal judge blocked enforcement of the original Oklahoma law, which was amended in 2005 to give employers immunity if a third person used a gun from a worker's vehicle to injure or kill someone at work. A second judge, Terence Kern, blocked that law in October 2007.

Industrial Hygiene Product Showcase

  • Kestrel Heat Stress Monitoring System

    Kestrel Heat Stress Monitoring System

    Ensure worker safety & regulatory compliance with the Kestrel® Heat Stress Monitoring System. With real-time remote access to critical data, leaders have the information to make timely decisions preventing workplace heat-related injuries and incidents. The Kestrel 5400 Heat Stress Tracker with LiNK connects via Bluetooth to a wall-mounted remote monitoring tablet showing current data. Use the Kestrel LiNK app to manage and log work conditions, view graphs, and create shareable reports. The Ambient Weather Network (AWN) online portal and app offer remote monitoring capabilities for 24-7 visibility, including a custom dashboard and the ability to set alerts for changing conditions. 3

  • The MGC Simple Plus

    The MGC Simple Plus

    The MGC Simple Plus is a simple-to-use, portable multi gas detector that runs continuously for three years without needing to be recharged or routinely calibrated after its initial charge and calibration during manufacturing. The detector reliably tests a worksite’s atmosphere for hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, oxygen and combustible gases (LEL). Additionally, it is durable enough to withstand the harshest treatment and environments, which is why it has an IP 68 rating. The MGC Simple Plus is also compatible with a variety of accessories, such as Gas Clip Technologies’ new GCT External Pump. Visit for more information. 3

  • Certified Class 2 Div 2 Vacuums

    Certified Class 2 Div 2 Vacuums

    Nilfisk delivers a full line of industrial vacuums designed to meet NFPA 652 housekeeping requirements for collecting combustible dust in Class I, Group D and Class II, Groups E, F & G or non-classified environments. Our pneumatic vacuums also meet the requirements for safe use in hazardous environments. Nilfisk advanced filtration technology safely captures combustible materials dispersed in your plant - everything from fuels, solvents and metal dust to flour, sugar and pharmaceutical powders. 3