Home Depot  v. OSHA

  • Issue:  Workplace Safety
  • Court: California Court of Appeals
  • Status: Pending

Questions Presented:

Issue(s): At issue in this case is whether the California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board (Appeals Board) engaged in enforcement overreach of worker safety regulations by ignoring plain reading of regulatory language and prior Board decisions on employer obligations when assessing worker safety risks, and instead, established a new arbitrary standard; and whether the Board erred in failing to consider the potential harm caused by a protective footwear requirement for workers in environments with minimal demonstrated risk.

Main Argument and Position:

This case is part of a trend in California Division for Occupational Safety enforcement actions and California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board decisions expanding California worker safety requirements involving foot protection requirements. The Board's Mira Loma decision broadly read could require employers to provide protective footwear to any employee who on occasion passes within close proximity of a pallet jack or industrial truck, regardless of other factors like the employee's job duties or work environment. The RLC brief details the far-reaching impact of the Board's decision, which if upheld, will lead to the irrational result where employees working in environments with minimal safety risk (e.g., front office and front of the store employees) could be required to wear steel-toed boots. The Board's decision ignored the potential hazards for employees created by a steel-toed boot requirement (e.g., weight of boots causing employees to be tired and inattentive, tripping hazard, potential falling risk when used on ladders and other equipment) and disregarded the plain meaning of the statute, regulations and applicable case law requiring a balancing of the benefits and risks of protective footwear and consideration of other measures that might achieve the same workplace safety goals while reducing overall risk to employees. The RLC urges the Court to reverse the Board's decision.

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