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Law judge vacates safety citation against temp agency

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An administrative law judge of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission vacated a workplace safety citation issued against a temporary staffing agency after finding that regulators failed to prove existing abatement measures were insufficient to mitigate the hazard.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Hanover, Maryland-based temporary staffing agency Aerotek, which contracted with Coorstek Inc. to provide employees to the Coorstek manufacturing facility in Golden, Colorado, according to commission documents in Secretary of Labor v. Aerotek. On July 30, 2015, one of the staffing firm’s employees was riding a conveyance system known as a belt manlift when it jerked, causing him to lose his balance and fall through the floor into the basement, suffering serious injuries.

OSHA initially alleged the employees were exposed to a fall hazard while accessing the belt manlift and assessed a serious violation and proposed a penalty of $3,400, which the staffing firm contested, according to commission documents. The agency later learned that the manlift might be exempted from the cited standard because it was installed prior to the effective date of the applicable regulations and amended the citation to allege a violation of the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

While the administrative law judge found that the citation to the general duty clause was appropriate given that the manlift was installed prior to the effective date of the regulation, the judge vacated the citation because the secretary failed to prove the existing abatement measures were insufficient to address the identified hazard.

The administrative law judge’s decision became a final order of the commission on Wednesday.

A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.