OSHA, Workplace Safety and Whistleblower Claims

  • Holland & Knight's OSHA, Workplace Safety and Whistleblower Claims Team is a highly trained, skilled and experienced group of attorneys that has advised and represented myriad clients across all industry sectors in hundreds of matters and cases, including those related to and arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our attorneys represent clients in response to investigations, citations and claims under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and defend our clients in OSHA-related administrative proceedings and litigation in federal and state courts.
  • Our team provides dozens of legal services to our clients — including but not limited to the provision of information and opinion concerning interpretation and application of governing guidance, standards and law; risk management; crisis intervention; comprehensive safety plan implementation; representation at inspections; and sophisticated negotiation and strategic and vigorous defense of alleged violations of health, safety and whistleblower laws, rules and regulations.
  • Holland & Knight's breadth, depth and geographic reach allows us to deploy swift counsel and often immediate on-site presence, in response to catastrophic workplace events that may result from explosions, fires, collapses, electrocutions and other workplace accidents, resulting in serious injuries and illness, amputations, hospitalizations and fatalities.
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Overview

For employers, including those operating in industries vulnerable to workplace-related injuries, illnesses, fatalities, and other safety and health hazards, ongoing compliance with the OSH Act as well as other safety and health statutes and requirements is a pervasive and increasing concern, including in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is axiomatic, that with the need for implementing appropriate compliance measures and training programs, fulfilling reporting requirements, and responding to investigations, citations and worker complaints, having the support of a seasoned and diverse workplace safety and whistleblower team is not only advisable but essential.

The Support of an Experienced Legal Team and Benefit of an Integrated Practice Approach

Holland & Knight's award-winning and industry-recognized OSHA attorneys have represented clients in hundreds of different types of workplace safety and whistleblower actions and matters.

Our team of dedicated OSHA attorneys is poised to address any workplace safety concern, respond to any hazard issue, represent employers in any contested matter or defend against any whistleblower claim that you may be facing. We regularly counsel and advise clients with developing workplace safety policies to mitigate litigation risk and provide support in litigation and other adversarial proceedings. Our distinctive and customized integrated approach will enhance your company's response efforts as we efficiently gather and process information and draw support from throughout the firm's many practice areas. Our team relies on the support of lawyers from our labor and employment, construction, real estate, hospitality, retail, transportation, education, food, hazardous materials, manufacturing, distribution, regulatory, litigation, business and environmental law practices, to address aspects, concerns, issues and challenges unique to your business.

Achieving Workplace Safety and Maintaining OSHA Compliance Through Proactive Measures

As OSHA standards and reporting requirements — often with wide-ranging consequences — change and become increasingly complex, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers look to their law firm partners for more than reactive advice and defensive representation. Holland & Knight's OSHA attorneys utilize a proactive, comprehensive approach and assist clients with not only complying with OSHA's often heavy demands, but also in managing the risks, as well as the costs, associated with noncompliance, by:

  • providing compliance guidance with regulation-specific programs, meeting OSHA reporting requirements, and developing safety and health programs and policies
  • offering employee training on OSHA safety measures and other employment law matters
  • obtaining qualification for voluntary protection programs
  • seeking modification of OSHA regulatory requirements, as well as requirements mandated under the Mine Safety and Health Act (MSHA)

Availability and Necessary Rapid Response to Catastrophic Accidents

Our OSHA team has a proven track record of responding to catastrophic workplace events, including accidents causing serious illness, injuries, amputations, hospitalizations and fatalities such as those arising from explosions, fires, collapses and electrocutions. Our attorneys can swiftly deploy anywhere in the country to provide critical and timely support. Our team is often on-site within hours, dispensing services and supporting clients by:

  • providing timely counsel
  • gathering key investigative information, preserving evidence and assessing physical workplace
  • helping to interface effectively with governmental agencies and inspectors
  • managing property and personal injury liability and related insurance coverage issues
  • assisting in insulation of criminal prosecution
  • containing OSHA concerns or issues arising under MSHA

Assisting and Representing in OSHA Investigations, Citations and Complaints

Our OSHA attorneys regularly support dozens of diverse and uniquely situated companies through all phases of workplace investigations, citation response and contest process, including matters related to:

  • citations for violations of the OSH Act's General Duty Clause
  • on-site inspections and management interviews with governmental officials
  • informal conferences and negotiations with OSHA's local area offices
  • negotiation of informal and other settlement agreements
  • opposition for placement in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP)

In more formal litigation matters, we have represented employers through:

  • defense of litigated contest proceedings initiated by the Solicitor of Labor's office before administrative law judges
  • arguing appeals to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) and Mine Safety and Health Review Commission as well as the U.S. Courts of Appeals
  • defense in the full range of cases involving workplace safety (i.e., accidents, illness, injuries and fatalities) and health (e.g., toxic exposure to chemicals and carcinogens, electrical, noise, dust and heat, among others)
  • defending against OSHA safety-related retaliation claims by current and former employees

Whistleblower Claims

Our experienced attorneys have represented an array of clients before OSHA on numerous of the more than 20 federal whistleblower statutes enforced by OSHA, including but not limited to:

  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
  • Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA)
  • Federal Transportation Act
  • National Transit Systems Security Act (NTSSA)
  • Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)
  • Consumer Financial Protection Act
  • Clean Air Act (CAA)

Our whistleblower team's representation covers a variety of industry sectors such as aviation, railroad, maritime, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, food safety, environmental, financial reform and securities laws. Our firm's attorneys advise clients on proper training regimens, reporting chains and workplace policies to avoid whistleblower claims. Should our clients need to answer a whistleblower claim, our team of attorneys is equipped to vigorously defend such a complaint from the date of filing through the conclusion of any litigation. Whether claims are filed in federal court, state court or with OSHA, our attorneys are experienced and prepared to represent employers opposing whistleblower claims filed under numerous federal statutes and state laws.

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