OSHA won an important victory this week when a U.S. District Court upheld its subpoenas requesting safety inspection records from an insurance company. The insurer, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co, had inspected its client’s facilities (Haasbach LLC, a grain bin company) preceding a grain engulfment that killed two teenagers in July of 2010.
According to OSHA’s announcement, “Grinnell contended that the subpoena would discourage businesses from allowing insurers to conduct safety inspections if the material contained in the inspection reports can be used against a business during later litigation or OSHA enforcement proceedings. The court ordered that the records be given to OSHA.”
OSHA says the ruling “affirmed OSHA's authority to obtain relevant information from an employer's workers' compensation insurance company” and that it illustrates “that workers' compensation and OSHA are not separate worlds divorced from each other.”
The repercussions from the ruling could obviously extend beyond scope of this case since the court ruled “OSHA has jurisdiction to investigate the workplace fatalities, and further has the authority to require the production of relevant evidence.”