Faultless Div., Bliss & Laughlin Industries, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor, No. 81-1740

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore PELL, Circuit Judge, FAIRCHILD, Senior Circuit Judge and CUDAHY; CUDAHY; PELL
Citation674 F.2d 1177
Parties10 O.S.H. Cas.(BNA) 1481, 1982 O.S.H.D. (CCH) P 25,989 FAULTLESS DIVISION, BLISS & LAUGHLIN INDUSTRIES, INC., a corporation, Petitioner, v. SECRETARY OF LABOR, and Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, Respondent.
Decision Date30 March 1982
Docket NumberNo. 81-1740

Page 1177

674 F.2d 1177
10 O.S.H. Cas.(BNA) 1481, 1982 O.S.H.D. (CCH)
P 25,989
FAULTLESS DIVISION, BLISS & LAUGHLIN INDUSTRIES, INC., a
corporation, Petitioner,
v.
SECRETARY OF LABOR, and Occupational Safety and Health
Review Commission, Respondent.
No. 81-1740.
United States Court of Appeals,
Seventh Circuit.
Argued Sept. 17, 1982.
Decided March 30, 1982.

Page 1179

Thomas O. Magan, William Michael Schiff, Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, Evansville, Ind., for petitioner.

Andrea C. Casson, U. S. Dept. of Labor, Washington, D. C., for respondent.

Before PELL, Circuit Judge, FAIRCHILD, Senior Circuit Judge and CUDAHY, Circuit Judge.

CUDAHY, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner Faultless Division, Bliss & Laughlin Industries, Inc. ("Faultless") seeks judicial review of an order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ("Commission" or "OSHRC") citing

Page 1180

Faultless for failing to guard certain presses. On December 4 and 5, 1979, a compliance officer from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") inspected Faultless' rubber molding operations. As a result of this inspection, Faultless was cited for a serious violation of 29 C.F.R. § 1910.212(a)(3)(ii) (1980), for failing to guard the point of operation on 17 hydraulic rubber molding presses. The Secretary established an abatement date and assessed a corrected penalty of $560 (later reduced to $100). Faultless contested the citation and the Commission assigned the case to an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). The ALJ upheld the citation.

Faultless here petitions for review of the ALJ's decision and order, which became the Commission's final order on March 25, 1981, when no Commissioner granted Faultless' petition for discretionary review. See 29 U.S.C. § 666(i) (Supp. II 1978). In its petition, Faultless asserts that the Commission's final order lacks substantial evidentiary support, is based upon an unconstitutionally vague regulation and wrongfully imposes upon it the burden of proving infeasibility of compliance. We deny Faultless' petition and affirm the Commission's order. 1

I.

Faultless manufactures small rubber caster wheels at its plant in Evansville, Indiana. As part of its manufacturing process, Faultless operates 17 hydraulic rubber molding presses. These presses employ both pressure and heat to form small rubber "preforms" into wheel-shaped casters. There are two types of presses at the plant arrayed along two separate production lines. Line A contains twelve "French-type" hydraulic rubber molding presses; Line B contains five "clam shell" hydraulic rubber molding presses. The two types of presses are similar in structure and operation except that the French-type is a two-sided press requiring two operators to simultaneously load and operate the press, while the clam shell presses need only one operator loading from one side.

Operators load the press dies while standing at the side of the press on a work platform. Line B operators pull a mold out of the clam shell press, insert the rubber preforms in the mold, and then close the mold and push it back into the press. Line A operators, however, push sheets containing the preforms directly into the French-type press. The preforms are held in place on the sheets by a jig board located on top of the sheet. After inserting the sheet and jig board, the operators pull the sheet out of the press and then shake the board to position the preforms on guiding pins. The operators then pull the jig board out of the press and the preforms drop into the molding cavities. Unlike the Line B clam shell operation, the mold used on Line A is not closed outside the press; instead, the mold remains stationary (positioned inside the press) and the die with exposed preforms is lifted upward against the stationary mold by the action of the closing press.

On both lines, after the preforms are loaded into the press, the operator activates the press by depressing a momentary-contact start button located near the press opening. (The paired Line A operators must simultaneously depress the start buttons located on the two sides of the press.) Immediately after depressing the start button (or buttons), the ram of the press in question lifts hydraulically upward, closing the gap or opening which exists at the point of operation. Depending upon the thickness of the die, the opening at the point of operation for Line B presses varies from three to seven inches in height and the time taken for the ram to close is approximately seven seconds.

Page 1181

The opening at the point of operation for Line A presses varies from seven to eleven inches in height and closing is completed in approximately ten seconds. After a press is closed, a curing cycle begins (during which the press remains closed). This cycle varies in duration from 10 to 45 minutes. When curing is completed, an automatic timer releases the press ram, the opening at the point of operation reappears and the finished wheel casters are ready for unloading. The press operators move from press to press, alternately loading and unloading the presses as time permits.

The OSHA compliance officer found no guarding device on the presses at the time of his inspection. The only safety device presently guarding the presses is a single emergency stop button. The activation of the stop button releases the hydraulic pressure, permitting the press ram to descend to the press base and restoring the opening at the point of operation. This button is located approximately six feet above the work platform on the upper left side of the press.

Faultless disputes the ALJ's findings of fact pertaining to the operators' behavior after they activate the presses. Based upon the testimony of a former Faultless production supervisor (La Mar), the ALJ found that press operators often reach into the press mold area during the closing cycle to realign preforms, thereby attempting to prevent the molding of imperfect caster wheels and reducing the potential for damage to the press. Given this reaching into the press mold area, if the operator should be unable to remove his hand or arm before the ram completed its closing cycle, his limb would be crushed or amputated by the powerful thrust of the press ram. The ALJ foresaw an increased possibility of such an unfortunate accident resulting from Faultless' work rule requiring operators to wear long-sleeved shirts; an operator wearing long sleeves might entangle his shirt in the numerous recessed pins and guidepins inside the press mold. La Mar also testified that an operator who entangled his left arm shirt sleeve in the mold probably could not reach the emergency stop button located on the upper left side of the press with his free right hand. The ALJ made a finding, which Faultless challenges, that press operators stand near the presses and watch the seven to ten second closing cycle before walking to the next press.

After hearing the evidence adduced by both parties, the ALJ concluded that Faultless failed to guard its hydraulic rubber molding presses as required by 29 C.F.R. § 1910.212(a)(3)(ii) (1980). 2 The ALJ also concluded that this failure constituted a serious violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the "OSH Act"). 3 On this petition for review, Faultless reiterates its arguments raised before the ALJ together with several new contentions. Because of the unique factual setting of this case and some apparent misconceptions about the applicable law, we shall discuss each of Faultless' contentions in detail.

Page 1182

II.

Faultless contends that the ALJ's findings (which were, of course, adopted by the Commission) lack substantial evidentiary support in the whole record. As one branch of this contention, Faultless asserts that the ALJ's alleged preconception of the merits precluded him from rendering an impartial and objective decision. Moreover, Faultless claims that the ALJ improperly relied on the testimony of an admittedly biased witness and that other factual findings contradict Faultless' unrebutted testimony and evidence.

Our standard of review of the ALJ's findings of fact is provided by the OSH Act. Thus, section 11(a) of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. § 660(a) (1976), provides that "(t)he findings of the Commission with respect to questions of fact, if supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole, shall be conclusive." Although this standard does not permit or require us to rubber stamp Commission findings, we are clearly required to accept the ALJ's (and by adoption, the Commission's) reasonable and substantial findings of fact and the inferences drawn by the Commission from these findings. See International Harvester Co. v. OSHRC, 628 F.2d 982, 986-87 (7th Cir. 1980); RMI Co. v. Secretary of Labor, 594 F.2d 566 (6th Cir. 1979). Further, under the applicable standard, the ALJ's credibility determinations must be honored by the agency and by a reviewing court unless these determinations are contradicted by uncontrovertible evidence. International Harvester, 628 F.2d at 986. Finally, our review of the ALJ's findings is premised upon an understanding of the OSH Act's remedial purpose and broad scope. See 29 U.S.C. § 651 (1976); Whirlpool Corp. v. Marshall, 445 U.S. 1, 11-12, 100 S.Ct. 883, 890-91, 63 L.Ed.2d 154 (1980); Bratton Corp. v. OSHRC, 590 F.2d 273, 276-77 (8th Cir. 1979).

In connection with its challenge to the Commission findings, Faultless directs our attention to several parts of the record which, in its opinion, demonstrate the ALJ's bias against Faultless. Thus as part of its case, Faultless offered into evidence a video tape display of a French-type hydraulic rubber molding press in operation. At the time of this offer, the ALJ told Faultless' counsel that he was familiar with the machine in question and indicated to counsel that the display was not necessary. 4 Faultless points out that, before the colloquy about the tape, the ALJ denied a motion by...

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35 practice notes
  • Henricksen v. State, No. 02-519.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • January 28, 2004
    ...safety violation but the record is not dispositive); Faultless Div., Bliss & Laughlin Indus., Inc. v. Secretary of Labor (7th Cir. 1982), 674 F.2d 1177, 1184 (a history free from accidents is not dispositive regarding whether a safety regulation violation occurred), or having a building gra......
  • U.S. v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc., PITT-DES
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 18, 1999
    ...doctrine is rooted in due process and concerned with "fair and reasonable warning." Faultless Div. v. Secretary of Labor, 674 F.2d 1177, 1185 (7th Cir.1982). Central to the doctrine is the requirement that there be minimal guidelines to govern the discretion of those who enforce the statute......
  • U.S. v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc., No. 96 CR 513.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • June 18, 1997
    ...Maynard v. Cartwright, 486 U.S. 356, 361, 108 S.Ct. 1853, 1857-58, 100 L.Ed.2d 372 (1988); see also Faultless Div. v. Secretary of Labor, 674 F.2d 1177, 1185 (7th Cir.1982) ("When considering remedial legislation such as the OSH Act and its implementing regulations, the vagueness ... is jud......
  • Sturm Ruger & Co., Inc. v. Herman, No. CIV.A.100CV01026(ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • February 13, 2001
    ...search of business records violated the Fourth Amendment); Faultless Division, Bliss & Laughlin Industries, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor, 674 F.2d 1177 (7th Cir.1982) (reviewing ruling by the Commission that a regulation passed pursuant to the OSH Act was not unconstitutionally vague). Moreov......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
35 cases
  • Henricksen v. State, No. 02-519.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • January 28, 2004
    ...safety violation but the record is not dispositive); Faultless Div., Bliss & Laughlin Indus., Inc. v. Secretary of Labor (7th Cir. 1982), 674 F.2d 1177, 1184 (a history free from accidents is not dispositive regarding whether a safety regulation violation occurred), or having a building gra......
  • U.S. v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc., PITT-DES
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 18, 1999
    ...doctrine is rooted in due process and concerned with "fair and reasonable warning." Faultless Div. v. Secretary of Labor, 674 F.2d 1177, 1185 (7th Cir.1982). Central to the doctrine is the requirement that there be minimal guidelines to govern the discretion of those who enforce the statute......
  • U.S. v. Pitt-Des Moines, Inc., No. 96 CR 513.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • June 18, 1997
    ...Maynard v. Cartwright, 486 U.S. 356, 361, 108 S.Ct. 1853, 1857-58, 100 L.Ed.2d 372 (1988); see also Faultless Div. v. Secretary of Labor, 674 F.2d 1177, 1185 (7th Cir.1982) ("When considering remedial legislation such as the OSH Act and its implementing regulations, the vagueness ... is jud......
  • Sturm Ruger & Co., Inc. v. Herman, No. CIV.A.100CV01026(ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • February 13, 2001
    ...search of business records violated the Fourth Amendment); Faultless Division, Bliss & Laughlin Industries, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor, 674 F.2d 1177 (7th Cir.1982) (reviewing ruling by the Commission that a regulation passed pursuant to the OSH Act was not unconstitutionally vague). Moreov......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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