Dana Container, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor

847 F.3d 495 (2017)

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Dana Container, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
847 F.3d 495 (2017)

Facts

Dana Container, Inc. (Dana) (plaintiff) ran a business that washed trucks that hauled various chemicals, such as latex or ink. Truckers hauled cargo to its destination and then took the trucks to Dana to be cleaned so that the trucks’ subsequent loads would not be contaminated by the prior cargo. Because the trucks carried material in the confined space of long, rounded, metallic tanks, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration established regulations mandating that employers enforce safety rules before their employees entered the tanks. The normal procedure for cleaning a truck was that employees drained any remaining residue from the truck’s tank, inserted mechanical tools that cleaned the tank, rinsed the tank with water, and blew it dry. If this procedure did not clean a tank sufficiently, employees followed a safety procedure before entering a tank. The procedure required an employee to get a permit to enter the tank from a supervisor, wear a harness that was connected to a mechanical tool that could pull the employee out of the tank in case of incapacitation, and test the air inside the tank for hazards prior to entry. While employees were inside the tank, they were mandated to use respirators, clean air was continually blown into the tent, and another employee had to be present near the tank to render aid if an emergency arose. Finally, employees were not permitted to go into a soiled tank that had not been cleaned mechanically. Despite this safety procedure, one night, supervisor Bobby Fox went into a soiled truck that had not been cleaned mechanically to unclog a drain. Fox did not get an entry permit, attach a harness to the device that could pull him out of the tank, or observe the other rules. Fox was rendered unconscious while inside the tank and was found lying in chemical residue by another employee, who called a fire department. The fire department got Fox out of the tank and transported him to the hospital, where it was confirmed that Fox had fainted due to the toxic vapors in the tank. Because of Fox’s actions, Dana was cited for a serious violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA). After exhausting efforts to contest below, Dana petitioned for review at a federal appeals court, and the secretary of labor (defendant) responded.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wood, C.J.)

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