Walter & Prince, LLP is dedicated to providing excellent legal advice and representation to our clients in regards to Cal OSHA regulations, laws, investigations, appeals, and impending litigation. Our approach to representation emphasizes working in partnership with our clients.
Our goals are to solve our clients’ immediate problems; to address their strategic, long-range concerns; and to be the firm that they turn to in a crisis.
We consider our clients to be an integral part of the team, from the inception of a case to the final decision. Two essential objectives of successful teamwork are good communications and clear objectives. We accomplish this by agreeing on realistic goals and action plans. We keep you informed through estimated litigation budgets and timelines, and regular status reports.
Teamwork is the hallmark of our practice. We ensure that each of us is familiar with the essential aspects of every active matter so that our clients are never without support.
Areas of Expertise
Cal/OSHA regulations (California Occupational Safety and Health or DOSH), enforcement policies, and appeals board decisions are challenging California employers as never before to remain profitable while meeting the demands of regulations that are often conflicting, confusing, harsh, and counter-productive. Walter & Prince, LLP navigates this hazardous environment to find effective and economical solutions to Cal/OSHA regulations and related legal problems for our clients. The scope of our practice is within the broad spectrum of labor and employment law.
Our Areas of Expertise include:
- Occupational Safety and Health [OSHA]
- Other states
- Federal OSHA
- CAL OSHA Citations
- CAL OSHA Appeals
- CAL OSHA Litigation
- CAL OSHA Regulations
- CAL OSHA Petitions For Reconsideration
- Crisis Response and Management
- Risk Analysis
- California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board
- “Serious and Willful Misconduct” (Calif. Labor Code § 4553 and 4553.1)
- Workers’ Compensation Discrimination claims (Calif. Labor Code § 132a)
Federal OSHA and Cal/OSHA citations, if not challenged and allowed to become final, will affect an employer's ability to do business in several ways. The first and most obvious is that penalties affect profitability. Penalties start at a standard $18,000 for a serious accident-related violation and often reach $70,000. Another citation for the same or a similar violation within three years can result in the second or third violation to be classified as Repeat, with standard penalties multiplied two or three times. If Cal/OSHA believes the citation should be classified as Willful, the standard penalty will be multiplied by five.
In the case of death or catastrophic accident, DOSH will refer the matter to its in-house criminal investigation unit (the Bureau of Investigation), or to local law enforcement. Cross-referrals to the EPA, local air quality management agencies, the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, and other agencies are now a routine part of the DOSH response to an accident or complaint.
Unchallenged citations can also hamper the employer’s ability to secure new business: All final citations are publicly listed on Fed OSHA’s website. Many entities, especially public agencies and developers, now routinely review a company’s OSHA experience during the bidding process. To search for your company’s history, click here.
In addition, a citation for a serious, accident-related violation can be offered as evidence of serious and willful misconduct (S&W) at the California Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB). The penalties for S&W can be severe, and they are uninsurable.
In a crisis, the myriad liabilities faced by employers in California – OSHA and EPA regulations, workers compensation, civil and criminal actions - all may come into play. When a disaster occurs, creating the basis for legal defense is as essential as returning to production. We use the attorney-client communication and work product privileges to protect our clients from the beginning. We also work with our clients’ insurance carriers and brokers to guarantee that proper protections are in place as soon as possible.
For more information, download our white paper on Crisis Management, which is reprinted here from Professional Safety Magazine. In addition, you can read many more articles on Cal/OSHA in our articles section. We also provide our clients with safety audits and risk management services, using the resources of safety and health and consultants with whom we have worked over the past twenty-two years.
We’re ready and willing to go to the mat to protect our clients.
At the same time, we appreciate the value of negotiated settlements. We do not seek to generate lots of activity (and costs) where a more patient “wait-and-see” strategy is called for. Also, we often find that a case that seems hopeless at the beginning can be rescued through the effective use of discovery and negotiations.
The following examples include cases which required high levels of active involvement and litigation, and those which did not.