Nomis Publications: COVID-19 Response and Updates

OSHA Compliance

Gary Finch Bio

Gary Finch's blog

Enjoy the OSHA Siesta, but Keep an Eye on the Back Door

Posted by Gary Finch on September 1, 2016

  This is the first presidential election that I have not searched the records and websites of both candidates to see what they were saying about OSHA. For better or worse, Congress adopted a non-interference policy a few years ago. Gone are the days where OSHA would fear to tread in the domain of a powerful member of Congress. This is the case for most federal agencies today and with the exception of the IRS, it seems to be working.

  I have also written that OSHA is not active with funeral home inspections. Almost all of the safety journals and the CDC are focused on the spread and dangers of ZIKA. I have sworn off writing more about it because the news changes daily. Subjects like ZIKA are more appropriately covered by daily newspapers and television news.

  All in all, this seems like an ideal time to warn everyone about OSHA’s back door. The back door of OSHA is when employees use OSHA to attack their employer. Instead of doing this by filing a complaint with OSHA, they use their employer’s failure to do the required safety training as the grounds for a mental anguish lawsuit. This is not some hypothetical. It has and does happen. When it happened to one of my customers, I was not able to interact with or even help the customer.

  Briefly, we had shipped our program to the funeral home. It sat on the floor for several months without being opened. On our reminder call, the owner explained that they had initially experienced a funeral slam. After that, employees were cycling on and off vacations. It was typical excuses but the bottom line, the program was not installed and there was never any training.

  In a firm with just a few licensed embalmers, one of them had a wife that was the safety officer for a local box store. It was probably through that channel that he learned how to use the back door approach. One day, the owner went into his office and found a note on his desk from that employee. He claimed that he was traumatized by working with known hazards and never being offered safety training that was required by law. He decided to leave the industry and go back to school to be trained to work in a related field. He sought to have his employer pay for that training as well as reward him for his pain and suffering.

  Are you laughing? You should not. His local attorneys told him they did not practice this type of law. He would have to find a specialist in a metropolitan area. When he did, he was told to stop thinking of having the case dismissed. Think instead of trying to settle for between $50 and $100K. And as it turned out, that is what happened. He also had to pay some steep legal fees.

  It would probably have resulted in a $2000 employer fine if the employee had sought regress through normal OSHA channels. This cost him fifty times that. A lot of funeral homes should address this vulnerability. Though the federal laws establishing minimum safety standards for employers that have employees working with hazards have been around for 30 years, most small funeral homes ignore those laws. Many have never even attempted to comply. And here you have been worried about OSHA. Maybe you need to worry about the back door.


Close [X]

Your Reply

Join Our Mailing List
  • 268
  • 516
  • 352
  • 1167
  • 587
  • 1741
  • 301
  • 327