In the case W.G Fairfield Company appellate against the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission, the court ruled that the commission did not act capriciously or arbitrarily when it affirmed a citation for W.G Fairfield Company violation of the two Occupational Safety and Health Act regulations. The two violations included 29 C.F.R. § 1926.20(b) (1) and 29 C.F.R. § 1926.21(b) (2), with the first stating that an employer has a duty in initiating and maintaining of safety programs while the second one stated that the employer had a duty of instructing employees in recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions. As per the case, Fairfield as well as Ohio Contractors Association raised numerous arguments based on insufficiency of evidence, legal error and due process, but the main determining issue was whether the company qualified as a plausibly cautious employer in the conformation of its safety program to any perceived duty of correcting and detecting hazards.

As per the court’s ruling, Fairfield’s argument that the OSHA regulations did not provide a requirement for employees training on such hazards as crossing active highways was found unpersuasive by the court based on the company’s awareness of employees’ common practice of crossing active highways. In interpreting the stipulations of 1926.20(b) (1) and 1926.21(b) (2), the court asserted that an objective test existed regarding whether recognition of a hazard is under the jurisdiction of the employer or if he has no knowledge of it, it is linked to the industry’s standard of knowledge. Due to the fundamentality of  conjunction “or”, the secretary was not obligated to provide a proof based on violating industry standards as long as he provided a proof-based on actual knowledge of the hazard’s existence.

The company’s employees attested to the fact that the company had been aware of the hazard linked to the crossing of an active highway and at times encouraged the utilization of vehicles in crossing the highway. This asserts that the company was aware of the hazard and a feasible alternative method of alleviating it but did not apply it in reducing the accident risk linked to the hazard. Accordingly, the court ruled that the commission was consistently justified in holding both that Fairfield violated stipulated OSHA regulations due to its concrete knowledge of the existing hazard as well as failing to include hazard’s addressing its employee training and safety program and the secretary’s failure to ascertain industry customs in regards to dynamic highways crossing.

The court ruled that though Fairfield cited the need for proving industry-wide negligence, FN4 did not see the reason for such a proof if actual knowledge of the hazard existed. In accordance to Fairfield, reasonableness could not be determined by industry customs and standards due to negligence, the ruling however stated that evidence was required to prove this notion. The MUTDC was utilized by the secretary to counter Fairfield’s argument that the secretary lacked evidence linked to the institution of trainings and programs for employees based on the crossing of active highways. The court ruling was such that though the MUTDC argument was presented by the secretary for the first time it was evidence enough because it obligated all companies and employers to institute trainings and policies on perceived hazards.

In this case under the stipulations of MUTDC Fairfield had the role of providing more training to its employees on the dangers of crossing the highway on foot. This indicates that the commission did not capriciously of arbitrarily hold that Fairfield possessed awareness of  the hazard as well as the fact that Fairfield’s due process rights were not violated by the appliance of the OSHA regulations by the commission. The accident at hand could have been prevented through adequate guidance because the hazard was obvious and an alternative method of crossing the road was available as per the knowledge of Fairfield. In conclusion, the court’s ruling asserted that the commission was not capricious or arbitrary in its holding as Fairfield was at fault as per the stipulations of OSHA regulations.


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