I attended the the American Bar Association Midwinter Meeting in Laguna Beach, California sponsored by the Occupational Safety and Health Law Committee. It was my first time attending this conference, and it was well worth it.
We had a packed agenda, with top notch speakers and moderators – and it didn’t hurt that we stayed at the Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach. The view from my balcony is about as good as it gets. Some colleagues commented that the pictures I took from the balcony looked like I was on a boat — which is about right.
The hot issues for OSHA this year include workplace violence, health hazards, the heat campaign, and the fall protection campaign. We also spent some time discussing the Serious Violator Enforcement Program, multi-employer worksite liability, safety incentive plans, and record-keeping. One point that was made was that every organization needs policies and procedures in place to address workplace violence- especially considering that OSHA has seen an alarming increase in workplace violence. Companies should make clear that they won’t tolerate violent behavior and, at the first sign of violence or an incident that could escalate to violence (even if just verbal threats), the company should be notified. Companies may benefit from a crisis management team that can assess risks, train supervisors and managers, and respond to incidents and protect the company with gathering the information necessary to obtain injunctions against workplace harassment, if such injunctions are needed in a particular case.
The meeting papers are online, and a great resource for OSHA and MSHA practitioners. I am already counting down to the meeting next year.