Melissa litigates significant OSHA enforcement matters and also represents many employers during OSHA inspections that followed fatalities or catastrophes. Her experience includes the following:
- OSHA issued two willful citations alleging violations of the construction trenching standards, and also sent out a press release claiming that the employer was "indifferent" to the hazards faced by its employees. After significant discovery and a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge issued a decision vacating one citation and amending the other citation to reflect a serious rather than willful violation. The total penalty was reduced from $140,000 to $7000.
- After a fatal accident, OSHA issued a citation that would have required the company and its industry to abate the alleged hazard by using a completely different type of equipment, which would have cost millions of dollars. Following the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge vacated the citation item.
- OSHA issued significant citations and a press release, and placed the employer at issue into the Severe Violators Enforcement Program ("SVEP"). The company engaged in months of substantive settlement negotiations with OSHA, and OSHA ultimately agreed to amend the citations such that the employer was no longer included in SVEP and abatement obligations were minimized.
- Following an amputation, Maryland Occupational Safety and Health cited a major grain handling/food processing company for violations of OSHA's Grain Handling standard. After a six-day trial, the Administrative Law Judge vacated the citations issued under the Grain Handling standard. The case was one of the first to test a controversial OSHA enforcement policy regarding the use of sweep augers in grain bins.
- OSHA cited a large employer engaged in trimming trees and vegetation around electrical lines for a violation of the Logging standard. The inspection resulted from an employee fatality. The company argued that the standard was inapplicable. After significant discovery, including multiple depositions, OSHA withdrew all citation items.
- Tennessee OSHA cited a chemical manufacturing facility for multiple violations of its Process Safety Management standard after an explosion resulted in an employee fatality. Based on additional facts presented during discovery, the government withdrew all but one of the citations.
- An employee who was terminated alleges that the employer retaliated against him for raising safety complaints under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. Following a two-day trial, the Administrative Law Judge found that the employee was properly terminated.
- OSHA conducted an audit of three years of injury and illness data, including OSHA 300 Logs and associated documents, for a large oil field servicing company. Although OSHA did issue citations, the company was very pro-active throughout the investigation, and as a result, liability was minimized.
- OSHA cited an electric utility for multiple violations following an accident that resulted in two fatalities. After extensive discovery and settlement negotiations, OSHA withdrew most of the citation items and cut the penalty by almost 50 percent.
- After an explosion that resulted in national news coverage, OSHA inspected an employer that provided industrial gases to customers. The company actively asserted its defenses during the inspection, and OSHA did not issue any citations.
Melissa has conducted accident investigations and root cause analyses under attorney-client privilege. She has also assisted clients in conducting complex industrial hygiene investigations, including two corporate-wide assessments of the risks of exposures to lead, cadmium and other health hazards.