Departments of Labor and Justice launch initiative to cooperate on investigation and prosecution of workplace safety violations

Departments of Labor and Justice launch initiative to cooperate on investigation and prosecution of workplace safety violations

From OSHA Quick Takes
January 4, 2016, Volume 15, Issue 1

The Department of Labor and the Department of Justice have established a new initiative to prevent and deter crimes that jeopardize the lives and health of workers. The initiative strengthens the ability of the two departments to investigate and prosecute employers who fail to provide a safe workplace for their employees. Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu joined Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in signing the agreement during a ceremony at the Dept. of Justice on Dec. 17.

The Memorandum of Understanding calls for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, and Wage and Hour Division to investigate and prosecute worker endangerment violations. The worker safety statutes generally provide for only misdemeanor penalties, and the new initiative will encourage them to use the federal criminal and penal code and environmental offenses, which often occur in conjunction with worker safety crimes, to enhance penalties and increase deterrence.

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