Kaspar Wire Works, Inc. v Secretary of Labor

Kaspar Wire Works Inc. filed a petition for review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1990 (29 U.S.C. §§651-678). Between 1982 and 1989, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) had conducted inspections at Kaspar Inc., and found that, there were no violations related to injury and illness recordkeeping. However, in 1990, OSHA inspectors visited Kaspar Inc., and found some violations of injury and illnesses recordkeeping. Consequently, Kaspar was issued with two citations by the Secretary of Labor over the alleged 400 willful, and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. After the investigation, an Administrative Law Judge found that, 382 of Kaspar’s violations were willful, which required Kaspar Inc. to pay a penalty of $257,700. This is what led to Kaspar Inc. to file a petition against the judge’s ruling citing that, the judge’s decision lacked enough evidence to support the findings of willfulness, and that, per-instance penalties were unlawful (Kaspar Wire Works, Inc. v Secretary of Labor, 2001).

However, Kaspar’s petition was denied. This is because; the Occupation Safety and Health Commission was able to proof willfulness of Kaspar’s violations. The commission’s evidence was based on the fact that, some of Kaspar’s employees had been involved in recording work related injuries and illnesses since 1970. Kaspar had followed the proper procedure of recording these incidents, and the 1982-1989 inspection by OSHA affirmed this. However, the 1990 inspection revealed that, Kaspar had failed to record 357 injuries in the OSHA No.200 form. The 357 unreported incidents constituted 86.5 percent of all injuries and illnesses that had happened at Kaspar between 1988 and 1989. The commission concluded that, Kaspar knowingly and willfully violated the recordkeeping practices concerning injuries and illnesses (Kaspar Wire Works, Inc. v Secretary of Labor, 2001). Awarding of per-instance penalty for the violations was based on the provision provided in the Occupational Health and Safety Act that, ‘any employer who willfully or repeatedly violates the requirements of the Act, may be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation’ (29 U.S.C. 666(a) (1990)).

In my opinion, the decision to overrule Kaspar’s petition was justified. This is because, since Kaspar had been recording all injuries and illnesses since 1970, omission of some injuries and illness between 1988 and 1989 was done willingly and knowingly. The underlying policy in this case is that, all employers should record all work related injuries and illnesses as per the provisions of 29 U.S.C. §§651-678 (1990).

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