Government safety inspections demand experienced, practical advice—and Locke Lord's labor and employment lawyers know how to respond promptly and appropriately to employee health and safety issues. Our lawyers have been representing clients in OSHA matters from the early 1970s and have more than 100 combined years of experience in OSHA compliance and litigation. We have handled some of the leading cases establishing the law in the OSHA area.
Our years of experience in workplace safety law have given us the ability to help companies develop policies and procedures to comply with health and safety regulations such as noise, exposure, recordkeeping, lockout/tag out, respirator, confined space, toxic substances, machine guarding, hazard communication, and other OSHA safety and health standards. We provide proactive, preventive, practical advice on compliance issues, which can include an audit of compliance practices and walk-around reviews of plant operations. We also conduct due diligence reviews of OSHA related practices and issues during mergers and acquisitions. Locke Lord's labor and employment lawyers handle OSHA matters for clients representing all types of industries, including manufacturing, petrochemical, energy, health care, construction, waste disposal and recycling, and contract assembly.
When OSHA or other government agencies conduct safety and health inspections, we provide immediate advice and representation and often help our clients avoid citations or minimize proposed penalties before they are issued. During the critical inspection phase, our representation can, and often times does, make a difference in protecting our client's rights and help to minimize the risk of potential liability. We do hands-on preparation of our clients for inspections and will be present for the interviews of executives and managers, especially if multiple injuries or a fatality has occurred. With OSHA's increased enforcement actions such as its "egregious" citation policies with greatly enhanced penalties and the potential for criminal prosecution in fatality situations, our knowledgeable lawyers are ready on short notice to guide our clients from the inspection stage forward.
A substantial part of our employee safety and health practice involves defending employers in enforcement actions by OSHA or other government agencies. Locke Lord's OSHA lawyers have defended hundreds of these enforcement actions. Unlike some firms, our OSHA lawyers are experienced trial lawyers who will try cases themselves before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission or in the courts.
If citations and proposed penalties are issued, Locke Lord will defend the matter to conclusion, whether this is through litigation on the merits of the case or a settlement. We have litigated matters such as machine guarding, lockout/tagout, fall protection, confined spaces, and numerous other issues facing manufacturers, construction companies, and other employers whose workplaces include hazardous equipment and/or hazardous substances. Where appropriate, we have also negotiated settlements, in which our representation caused significant reductions in penalties, dismissal of citations, extensions of abatement dates, agreements as to abatement methods, lowering of citation characterizations from willful to serious, and other such results. Locke Lord's labor and employment lawyers also have experience in pre-citation settlements where clients choose to avoid continued adverse publicity or to minimize other business risks and want a settlement in place before citations are even issued.
Our experience as labor and employment lawyers is particularly helpful to our clients when disgruntled employees, former employees, or labor unions make unfounded claims about alleged unsafe work conditions. For example, we have defended employee whistleblower and retaliation claims at both the investigative level and in federal court under §11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. We also have handled union safety claims brought as grievances under collective bargaining agreements or as unfair labor practice charges before the NLRB.
In summary, we engage in preventive actions through audits and reviews to advise and assist our clients with compliance issues. We also help clients address safety and health inspections quickly—before they jeopardize our clients' future. We prepare clients for investigations as well as defend and litigate citations for violations resulting from such investigations. We also defend related employee whistleblower litigation. We are full service, experienced, hands-on OSHA practitioners and represent clients in employee safety and health matters from start to finish in compliance, enforcement and litigation defense.
The following list is representative of the many safety and health matters we have defended for businesses such as: