Safeway, Inc. v. Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission

382 F.3d 1189 (2004)

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Safeway, Inc. v. Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
382 F.3d 1189 (2004)

Facts

Safeway, Inc. (plaintiff) operated a facility for baking bread and sometimes sponsored barbecues for its employees. In preparation for a barbecue, Safeway purchased a gas grill that came with a tank that held 20 pounds of propane. The instructions on the grill required the installation of the tank underneath the grill for proper positioning. Not wanting to run out of gas during the barbecue, Safeway purchased a tank that held 40 pounds of propane. However, this 40-pound tank came with a warning label that the tank should not be used with a grill designed for use with a 20-pound tank. The 40-pound tank was too big to be positioned under the grill and needed to be affixed with a special adapter. Also, Safeway facilitated connection to the grill by leaning the tank against the grill’s frame. Safeway supervisors were aware of these facts. During a barbecue in 1998, the grill did not seem to be performing adequately, and employee Jerry Lewis, who had been instructed to set up the grill, was called to assess the problem. Lewis and another employee inspected the grill’s regulator and adjusted the position of the tank. Somehow, fuel managed to escape, which caused a fireball that burned Lewis’s hand severely. After Lewis’s injury, Safeway was inspected by the United States secretary of labor and cited for a breach of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). OSHA’s general-duty clause required employers to provide employees with work and workplaces that did not have known hazards that were liable to cause injury or death. Safeway challenged the citation, but an administrative-law judge upheld the violation. Safeway then sought the discretionary review of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (defendant), which granted review but later rescinded review allowing the citation to stand as final. Safeway appealed to a federal court of appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Murphy, J.)

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