Atlantic & Gulf Stevedores, Inc. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Com'n, No. 75-1584

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore FORMAN, GIBBONS and ROSENN; GIBBONS
Citation534 F.2d 541
Parties4 O.S.H. Cas.(BNA) 1061, 1975-1976 O.S.H.D. ( 20,577 ATLANTIC & GULF STEVEDORES, INC., et al., Petitioners, v. OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY & HEALTH REVIEW COMMISSION, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 75-1584
Decision Date26 March 1976

Page 541

534 F.2d 541
4 O.S.H. Cas.(BNA) 1061, 1975-1976 O.S.H.D. ( 20,577
ATLANTIC & GULF STEVEDORES, INC., et al., Petitioners,
v.
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY & HEALTH REVIEW COMMISSION, Respondent.
No. 75-1584.
United States Court of Appeals,
Third Circuit.
Argued Jan. 15, 1976.
Decided March 26, 1976.

Page 544

Francis A. Scanlan, Sean O'Callaghan, Deasey, Scanlan & Bender, Ltd., Philadelphia, Pa., for petitioners.

William J. Kilberg, Sol. of Labor, Benjamin W. Mintz, Associate Sol. for Occupational Safety and Health, Michael H. Levin, Counsel for App. Litigation, Scott H. Strickler, Dennis K. Kade, Attys., U.S. Dept. of Labor, Washington, D. C., for respondent.

OPINION OF THE COURT

Before FORMAN, GIBBONS and ROSENN, Circuit Judges.

GIBBONS, Circuit Judge.

This is a petition filed pursuant to § 11(a) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA), 29 U.S.C. § 660(a), to review an order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (the Commission) determining petitioners to be in non-serious violation of the Act's provisions. The petitioners are stevedoring companies operating in the Port of Philadelphia. They employ longshoremen. The Secretary of Labor, pursuant to statutory authority, 1 has adopted safety and health regulations for longshoring. Among those regulations is the so called "longshoring hardhat" standard:

"Employees shall be protected by protective hats meeting the specifications contained in the American National Standard Safety Requirements for Industrial Head Protection, Z89.1 (1969)."

29 C.F.R. § 1918.105(a) (1975).

On April 10-11, 1973 an OSHA compliance officer inspected the Camden, New Jersey docks and discovered that nearly all of petitioners' longshoremen were working without hardhats. 2 The Secretary cited petitioners for violation of § 5(a)(2) of OSHA, 29 U.S.C. § 654(a)(2), and proposed that civil penalties aggregating $455 be levied against the petitioners. 3 Each citation also ordered immediate abatement of violations. Petitioners filed notices of contest, 29 U.S.C. § 659(a), which resulted in a hearing before the Commission's Administrative Law Judge. 29 U.S.C. § 659(c).

At the hearing the OSHA compliance officer testified that on the dates of his inspections, only a very small proportion of the longshoremen were wearing hardhats, that none of the petitioners had previously been cited for a violation of the hardhat standard, and that no injuries were involved. He also testified that between 1971, when the standard was adopted, and April 1973 there had been a moratorium in the Secretary's enforcement of it, because the longshoremen's unions opposed it and the rank-and-file preferred not to wear hardhats. In 1973 the Secretary changed his enforcement policy, apparently as a result of conversations between a representative of the Department of Labor and the president of the International Longshoremen's Association.

Page 545

Witnesses for the petitioners testified that stevedores in the Port of Philadelphia had, beginning in 1971, undertaken strenuous but unsuccessful efforts to obtain compliance with the standard by their longshoring employees; had furnished the required hardhats; had encouraged use of the headgear at regular safety meetings; had posted hardhat signs on their working premises; had used payroll envelope stuffers advocating hardhat wearing; and had placed hardhat safety messages on the hiring tapes. All this was to little avail, and each employer witness testified to a firm belief that wildcat strikes or walkouts would attend attempts to enforce the standard by firing employees who refused to comply. There is undisputed testimony that in another port a strike over that issue did occur. 4 There is, however, no testimony that these petitioners ever denied work to a longshoreman for his refusal to wear a hardhat.

The petitioners urged that the Secretary's citations and proposed penalties should be vacated because in view of the longshoremen's intransigent opposition to and their union's lukewarm support for the standard, compliance by them with the hardhat standard was not achievable. The Administrative Law Judge found the three employers in violation of 29 C.F.R. § 1918.105(a), but vacated the Secretary's proposed penalties. A petition for discretionary review was filed with the Commission pursuant to § 12(j) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 661(i), and review was granted.

I

On April 11, 1975 the Commission handed down the decision and final order which we review. The Commission voted 2-1 to affirm the Administrative Law Judge's decision finding violations and vacating proposed penalties, but each Commissioner filed a separate opinion. Commissioner Cleary announced the decision of the Commission. He rejected as "largely speculative" the petitioners' contention that they had done all they could do without causing labor strife. In addition, citing Brennan v. OSHRC (Gerosa, Inc.), 491 F.2d 1340 (2d Cir. 1974), he concluded that, at least when non-compliance by employees was neither unpredictable nor idiosyncratic, final responsibility for compliance with the Act's requirements rested with the employers.

Commissioner Van Namee, concurring, did not agree that the evidence of potential labor unrest was speculative. Nor did he agree that employers could under the Act be held strictly liable in all instances of technical non-compliance. 5 Yet he concluded that in this instance the employers would, because of the terms of their collective bargaining agreements, have a remedy under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, against a wildcat strike. Commissioner Van Namee surmised that the availability of such a remedy made the fear of a strike, or at least an effective one, "nothing more than an illusion." 6 He recognized, however, that the

Page 546

applicability of a particular safety and health standard should not turn on whether the parties to the collective bargaining agreement agreed upon a grievance-arbitration procedure that was broad enough to permit a Boys Markets injunction. Such an approach would admit of selective enforcement of OSHA safety standards. To meet this objection Commissioner Van Namee said that irrespective of the existence of a Boys Markets remedy, the Commission itself had the statutory authority to issue cease and desist orders running against employees. These orders could be enforced by injunction in the Courts of Appeals pursuant to §§ 11(a) and (b) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 660(a) and (b).

Chairman Moran dissented. Like Commissioner Van Namee, he rejected Commissioner Cleary's assessment of the evidence concerning the likelihood of walkouts over attempts to enforce the hardhat requirement. He concluded that the employers had taken all steps required of them under the Act. He also expressed doubt as to the availability of § 301 injunctive relief.

In summary, although the Commission order affirmed the citations, there is no opinion which can be said to represent a concensus. Two Commissioners, Moran and Van Namee, agree that the record contains substantial evidence tending to show that a work stoppage will occur if the petitioners take additional steps to enforce the hardhat requirement. Commissioner Van Namee concludes, however, that the availability of relief before the Commission against spontaneous employee obduracy renders this body of evidence irrelevant. Chairman Moran evidently does not share Commissioner Van Namee's expansive view of the Commission's powers, although he did not in this case address the issue. Commissioner Cleary flatly rejects any interpretation of OSHA that would permit the Commission to issue cease and desist orders against employees. Nevertheless, he regards the threat of work stoppages posed in this instance as largely speculative. In any event, Commissioner Cleary suggests that where, as here, employee non-compliance is neither unpredictable nor idiosyncratic, the employer has an absolute statutory duty to enforce the terms of the Act.

II

Section 11(a) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 660(a), directs the reviewing court to accept "(t)he findings of the Commission with respect to questions of fact, if supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole . . . ." Brennan v. OSHRC (Interstate Glass Co.), 487 F.2d 438 (8th Cir. 1973). Because there is no opinion in which a majority of the Commission joined, there is no Commission finding of fact with respect to the likelihood that enforcement of the hardhat standard would provoke a work stoppage. But two Commissioners appear to have credited the testimony of the petitioners' witnesses that such a work stoppage was likely if not inevitable. We believe that such a finding would be supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. 7 Indeed, Commissioner Cleary's rejection of the evidence as "largely speculative", if it represented a finding of the Commission, probably would have to

Page 547

be dismissed as unsupported by substantial record evidence. Thus we assume, for purposes of this petition for review, that the longshoremen in the Port of Philadelphia are intransigent on the hardhat issue and are likely to strike if more vigorous enforcement efforts are undertaken.

This assumption serves to focus the specific and relatively narrow issue presented by this petition, viz., whether when employee non-compliance with an occupational safety or health standard is both predictable and virtually uniform, the employer must nevertheless enforce compliance even at the risk of concerted employee work stoppages. Because any answer to this inquiry is an adjudicatory conclusion, the scope of our review is less narrowly jacketed than with factual determinations. The law of this circuit is that we may set aside such conclusions if we find them to be arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law. Brennan v. OSHRC (Hanovia Lamp Div.), 502 F.2d 946, 951 (3d Cir. 1974); Budd Co. v....

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41 practice notes
  • Part III
    • United States
    • Federal Register November 15, 2007
    • November 15, 2007
    ...(29 U.S.C. 658, 659, 666) set out a detailed scheme of enforcement solely against employers. Atlantic and Gulf Stevedores, Inc. v. OSHRC, 534 F.2d 541, 553 (3d. Cir. 1976). Sections 9(a) and 10(a) (29 U.S.C. 658(a), 659(a)) provide for the issuance of citations and notifications of proposed......
  • Safety and health standards, etc.: Employer payment for personal protective equipment,
    • United States
    • Federal Register March 31, 1999
    • March 31, 1999
    ...to employers sole legal responsibility for achieving compliance with safety and health standards. Atlantic & Gulf Stevedores v. OSHRC, 534 F.2d 541, 533 (3d Cir. 1976). Because employers are charged with the responsibility for achieving safe and healthful workplaces, they must bear the ......
  • Separate Parts In This Issue Part III Labor Department, Occupational Safety and Health Administration,
    • United States
    • Federal Register November 15, 2007
    • November 15, 2007
    ...(29 U.S.C. 658, 659, 666) set out a detailed scheme of enforcement solely against employers. Atlantic and Gulf Stevedores, Inc. v. OSHRC, 534 F.2d 541, 553 (3d. Cir. 1976). Sections 9(a) and 10(a) (29 U.S.C. 658(a), 659(a)) provide for the issuance of citations and notifications of proposed......
  • Simplex Time Recorder Co. v. Secretary of Labor, Nos. 83-2164
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 5, 1985
    ...can be raised in enforcement proceedings. The Third and Fourth Circuits apparently agree. See Atlantic & Gulf Stevedores v. OSHRC, 534 F.2d 541, 550 (3d Cir.1976) (dictum) (OSHRC may deny enforcement of a standard it determines to have been issued "in violation of [OSHA's] substantive or pr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
38 cases
  • Simplex Time Recorder Co. v. Secretary of Labor, Nos. 83-2164
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 5, 1985
    ...can be raised in enforcement proceedings. The Third and Fourth Circuits apparently agree. See Atlantic & Gulf Stevedores v. OSHRC, 534 F.2d 541, 550 (3d Cir.1976) (dictum) (OSHRC may deny enforcement of a standard it determines to have been issued "in violation of [OSHA's] substantive or pr......
  • National Indus. Sand Ass'n v. Marshall, Nos. 78-2446
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • May 16, 1979
    ...applied and whether statutory procedural requirements had been satisfied. Our later decision in Atlantic & Gulf Stevedores, Inc. v. OSHRC, 534 F.2d 541 (3d Cir. 1976), held that the validity of safety and health regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Labor could be challenged in an enf......
  • Marshall v. Sun Petroleum Products Co., No. 79-1822
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • August 11, 1980
    ...of abatement. 29 U.S.C. § 658(a). Employees cannot themselves be cited as violators of the Act, Atlantic & Gulf Stevedores v. OSHRC, 534 F.2d 541 (3d Cir. 1976), and it is hard to image a situation where employees would wish to object to the Secretary's finding of a violation. (It is of cou......
  • Diebold, Inc. v. Marshall, No. 76-1278
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • November 3, 1978
    ...attaining. See Society of Plastics Industry, Inc. v. OSHA, 509 F.2d 1301, 1309 (2d Cir. 1975); Atlantic & Gulf Stevedores, Inc. v. OSHRC, 534 F.2d 541, 548 (3d Cir. 1976). See also Chrysler Corp. v. Department of Transportation, 472 F.2d 659, 671-74 (6th Cir. 1972) (Automobile Safety Act of......
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