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Brennan v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
501 F.2d 1196 (7th Cir. 1974)


Republic Creosoting Company (Republic) (defendant) was in the business of acquiring and preparing railroad ties for use by railroad companies. Each tie weighed about 150 to 235 pounds. Republic received deliveries of the ties by truck. The ties were always bound together into packages by a single steel band. Republic established a specific process for unloading the ties. Republic’s unloader operator would first move a forklift into place to support one package of ties. Once the forklift was in place, the truck driver would cut the band, at which point the unloader operator would remove the package from the truck. All other employees were required to remain a safe distance away from the truck during the unloading process. On July 9, 1971, Raymond Davis, a new employee, was present during the unloading of a truck. Davis had not received training on the unloading process. Wallace Worley, the field superintendent, instructed Davis not to be near the truck during unloading and advised Davis that the unloader operator would do all of the unloading. However, before the unloader operator had placed the forklift in position, Davis spontaneously approached the truck and cut the steel band. Five ties fell onto Davis, causing his death. U.S. Secretary of Labor Peter Brennan (Secretary) (plaintiff) issued a citation against Republic, alleging that Davis’s accident constituted a serious violation of the general-duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Act), 29 U.S.C. §§ 651-78. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) (defendant) vacated the citation. The Secretary appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Pell, J.)

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