The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is fighting against a federal magistrate’s ruling denying the agency a warrant that would allow it to inspect a poultry plant in Gainesville, GA for alleged worker safety violations. The U.S. Magistrate opined federal regulators first must set forth clear probable cause, or else inspections end up becoming “tools of harassment.” In this case, he judge held, this standard was not met.
OSHA is appealing.
Although the agency already conducted a cursory search of the facility, it had requested an expanded inspection. The magistrate, however, held that the probable cause standard wasn’t met and – interestingly – could not be met solely on the basis of a worker’s complaint or a reported work injury. OSHA had asserted those should be reason enough, but even so, this was a situation where there were high numbers of work-related injuries. The agency suspects the company not only of serious safety violations but also poor record-keeping practices. Continue reading →