Caterpillar Inc. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

122 F.3d 437 (1997)

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Caterpillar Inc. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
122 F.3d 437 (1997)

Facts

The secretary of labor (secretary) cited Caterpillar Inc. (plaintiff) with willfully violating the general-duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (act) in connection with an industrial accident. The accident occurred in 1992 during an attempt to repair a 6,000-ton forging press when a steel stud broke loose and was propelled 121 feet, where it struck an employee on the head, causing serious injury. In 1989, there had been two similar incidents involving flying studs that were propelled erratically in different directions and for different distances, causing injury to employees and property damage. The supervisors at the time of the 1989 incidents were no longer employed by Caterpillar in 1992. However, the lead repairman on the 1992 job, Ronald Williams, witnessed the 1989 incidents. After the 1989 incidents, Williams repeatedly requested, and Caterpillar repeatedly denied, enhanced safety precautions during repair operations. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (commission) (defendant) determined that Caterpillar willfully violated the general-duty clause found in § 5 of the act. Caterpillar then petitioned for review, arguing that the assignment of the repair to Williams, a skilled and experienced tradesman with a positive safety record, demonstrated precautions commensurate with the foreseen hazards of the repair operation and that Caterpillar was, therefore, entitled to rely on Williams to make appropriate safety recommendations to his supervisor, who was not involved in the 1989 incidents.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cummings, J.)

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