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Workplace RERC

State of the Science Conference
September 15-16, 2005

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Safety Regulations: Barriers to Employment in a Manufacturing Environment

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Slides Index Slides 1-14 Slides 15-27

Slides On This Page

  1. General Duty Clause
  2. Recognized Hazard
  3. 1997 OSHA Policy Memo
  4. 1997 OSHA Policy Memo (cont.)
  5. Court Cases
  6. Direct Threat
  7. Echazabal v. Chevron (2002)
  8. EEOC v. Murray (2001)
  9. Albertson's v. Kirkingburg (1999)
  10. Opportunities for Future Work
  11. In Summary
  12. Future Development
  13. Acknowledgements

Slide 15 of 27

General Duty Clause

  • Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act (known as the “General Duty Clause”) requires an employer to furnish to its employees:
  • "employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees..."

    Slide 16 of 27

    Recognized Hazard

  • Employer’s industry recognizes it as a hazard
  • Employer recognizes it as a hazard
  • Any reasonable person would recognize it as a hazard (termed “Common
  • Sense Recognition”)

    Slide 17 of 27

    1997 OSHA Policy Memo Regarding Workers with Disabilities

  • [OSHA] strive[s] for working conditions which will safeguard the safety and
  • health of all workers, including those with special needs and limitations.

    Slide 18 of 27

    1997 OSHA Policy Memo Regarding Workers with Disabilities (cont.)

  • If an employee can perform their job functions in a manner which does not
  • pose a safety hazard to themselves or others, the fact they have a disability is irrelevant.
  • OSHA memorandum to Area Directors and District Supervisors – 08/27/1997

  • Slide 19 of 27

    Court Cases

    ADA v. OSHA in the Courts
    Three Supreme Court Cases

    Slide 20 of 27

    Direct Threat

    Another Key Term:
    Direct Threat (ADA)
  • The term direct threat means a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act 42 U.S.C. 12111(3)

    Slide 21 of 27

    Echazabal v. Chevron (2002)

    Supreme Court Case:
    Echazabal v. Chevron (2002)
  • Oil refinery worker laid off due to liver abnormalities that might be aggravated by exposure to refinery toxins
  • Company’s position: worker poses a direct threat to himself
  • Court’s position: the ADA “Direct Threat” clause can apply to the individual with disability as well as to fellow employees

  • Slide 22 of 27

    EEOC v. Murray (2001)

    Supreme Court Case:
    EEOC v. Murray (2001)
  • Forklift Operator fired because he was diagnosed with insulin-dependant diabetes.
  • Company’s position: obligated under GDC to eliminate the potential hazard
  • Court’s position: “direct threat” must be proven for the individual not merely on the medical diagnosis

  • Slide 23 of 27

    Albertson’s v. Kirkingburg (1999)

    Supreme Court Case:
    Albertson’s v. Kirkingburg (1999)
  • Truck driver fired for failing to meet minimum Federal DOT vision standards
  • Court found in favor of company and stated:
  • Federal laws such as DOT's visual acuity standards might be critical in determining whether a plaintiff is a ‘qualified individual with a disability’ for ADA purposes.”

  • Slide 24 of 27

    Opportunities for Future Work

    Opportunities for Future Work
    Proposed Development Efforts

    Slide 25 of 27

    In Summary

  • Increased job opportunities and safety concerns in manufacturing environment
  • Employer has responsibility to ensure a safe work environment for employees
  • Courts are helping to define the boundaries between ADA and OSHA

  • Slide 26 of 27

    Future Development

  • Training materials to help VR professionals understand OSHA, et al.
  • Assessment tools to help manufacturing employers understand functional
  • abilities
  • Investigate safety issues specific to CNC
  • Assist with safety standard development
  • Compile information about relevant court cases

  • Slide 27 of 27


    Thank you for your attention

    Supported by grant #H133E020720
    from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR),
    U.S. Department of Education

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