South-Western - Management  
Rise in OSH Act Complaints Expected in Rebirth of Gulf Coast
Topic Human Resources Management
Key Words Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSH Act), safety, workplace injuries, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
News Story 

The Department of Labor is expecting an increase in complaints under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the Gulf Coast Region as a result of hazardous work in the aftermath of the hurricanes. Much of the cleanup and rebuilding involves dangerous work. Electrical lines are under water, there is an increased risk of falls and accidents that commonly occur during retrenching, and many other risks.

Many employers have begun taking steps to reduce the risks. Turner Broadcasting System has been vigilant about protecting its employees. When sending media people to cover the disaster, it set up a "mother hen desk," requiring workers to call in every two hours if they had not been contacted in the interim so they could account for their safety. Turner also set up tent cities with supplies and mobile clinics. The company focused on possible health issues at management meetings. Employees were reminded of available employee assistance programs. Every department, from HR to finance was involved in the effort.

DOL warns that the OSH Act ramifications from Hurricane Katrina are likely to be much greater than those after 9/11. DOL is also considering a revision to the FMLA regulations, including clarification of "serious health condition."

Questions
1.

Visit the following website for a description of the OSH Act: http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-osha.htm. What is the purpose of this Act? Who does it benefit? How is it monitored?

2.

Explain the threats to workers that are likely to arise in the Gulf region after Hurricane Katrina. How can companies protect their workers from these types of threats?

Source "Rise in OSH Act Complaints Expected in Rebirth of Gulf Coast," Society for Human Resource Management HR News, Oct. 3, 2005.
Instructor Discussion Notes Discussion Notes
These notes are restricted to qualified instructors only. Register for free!

Return to the Human Resources Management Index

©2005  South-Western.  All Rights Reserved     |