Managing OSHA

Critical but practical advice for when OSHA comes knocking.

Managing OSHA

Machine Guarding


Sixth Circuit’s Standard for Employee Exposure Nothing New

We have received several questions regarding the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision in All Erection & Crane Rental Corp., 2012 WL 6028627 (6th Cir. Dec. 5, 2012), which upheld a citation alleging that an employer failed to barricade a crane’s swing radius. Despite no employee injury and OSHA’s failure to actually observe an employee in the hazardous area, the Sixth Circuit concluded employee exposure to the hazard existed because “employees had access to the violative condition.” In light of this, readers have been concerned that All Crane may make it easier for OSHA to prove the element of employee exposure.

At first glance, All Crane may appear to throw open the flood gates for employer liability; i.e., any theoretical possibility of employee contact with a hazard will result in a finding of employee exposure. Fortunately for employers, there’s no need to hit the panic button – this is the same employee exposure standard the Review Commission’s been applying for almost 40 years.


Key Questions for Employers to Ask When Defending a Machine Guarding Citation

Last year, the machine guarding standard – 29 C.F.R. § 1910.212 – was among OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited standards, moving up one spot from where it was the previous year. In fact, it earned a place in OSHA’s top 4 highest penalties assessed for 2012. In light of its increasing regularity and formidable penalties, employers should be prepared to consider 3 primary questions when facing the prospect of a machine guarding citation:

  1. Have the moving part hazards been designed out of the machine at issue?
  2. Is there employee exposure to any hazard associated with the moving parts?
  3. Have any administrative controls been implemented to limit exposure?

These questions will provide a meaningful starting point for employers to evaluate their defenses if OSHA ever shows up at the door.

Subscribe to RSS - Machine Guarding


Add this blog to your RSS feed reader.

Arent Fox In Your Inbox
To subscribe to Arent Fox Alerts and other news, click here.


Arent Fox LLP, founded in 1942, is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and government intersect. With more than 350 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to clients that range from Fortune 500 corporations to trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.