Occupational Safety and Health

Keller and Heckman's extensive occupational safety and health practice focuses on helping our clients to maintain safe and healthy workplaces and comply with the applicable laws in the most cost effective manner, minimize the consequences of government enforcement actions, and shape a legislative and regulatory environment conducive to productivity and growth. Our efforts on behalf of a client take into account the immediate, intermediate, and long-term impacts on the client's operations.

We have extensive experience in successfully handling accident investigations, compliance audits, government agency inspections and enforcement actions, and government agency rulemakings. Our attorneys have testified before Congress on major workplace safety and health issues and provided legal, policy, and technical input to members of the Senate, House and Congressional staff on legislative initiatives. Keller and Heckman represent a broad range of large (Fortune 500), medium and small companies and their trade organizations in the workplace safety and health arena. Our occupational safety and health practice is fully integrated with the firm's environmental, transportation, food and drug, product stewardship, product safety, trade association, and telecommunications practice groups.

Counseling, Auditing and Accident Investigations

Keller and Heckman's extensive experience and expertise enables us to effectively guide clients in developing practical, cost-effective, and legally compliant solutions for complying with performance-based and otherwise ambiguous government standards and regulations.

We assist in the design, development, and implementation of accident investigation procedures, audit procedures, and risk management-based programs that address the broad spectrum of occupational safety and health hazards found in general industry, construction, mining operations, and transportation. This includes everything from site-specific programs to global best practices for international companies. We also conduct both broad and targeted compliance audits, advise, and support management during major workplace incidents and investigations.


We have been involved in hundreds of government agency enforcement actions with substantial success; we provide guidance to clients during inspections and litigate government enforcement actions before Federal and state administrative law judges, review commissions, and courts. One of our fortes in this area lies in the ability of our attorneys and scientists to effectively synthesize the legal and technical merits of an issue to demonstrate that a particular hazard control measure or a hazard control strategy is effective, although it may not be one that OSHA previously recognized. In one case, our negotiations with OSHA were supported by an unprecedented, multi-phase cooperative study that resulted in the unprecedented adoption of an OSHA compliance instruction (effectively a generic variance) addressing the design, operation, and maintenance of batch pulp digesters (a type of pressure vessel) in wide use within the paper industry.

Agency Rulemakings and LEGAL Challenges

On behalf of one or more clients, we have participated in virtually every major OSHA rulemaking initiative over the past 30 years. We have also participated in numerous legal challenges to final agency rules, generally because OSHA did not establish that certain requirements were reasonably necessary or appropriate to occupational safety and health and, on occasion, to intervene on behalf of OSHA to support requirements challenged by organized labor or public interest groups.

Keller and Heckman's forte in the rulemaking arena lies in the ability of our attorneys and scientists to effectively synthesize the legal and technical merits of a client's position to achieve a desired result. We offer creative approaches for fulfilling regulatory goals.

Consensus Standards

We frequently advise on the requirements of national consensus standards, many of which are incorporated into state and local building codes and relied upon by OSHA to interpret OSHA standards or the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act. Our attorneys and technical staff frequently participate in the development of consensus standards through the processes coordinated by the American National Standards Institute, ASTM International, NFPA, and other national and international consensus standards organizations. We have participated in the development of product standards, safety standards. and environmental and sustainability standards involving a broad range of issues including building design and materials, combustible dust, furniture, nanotechnology, occupational health and safety, packaging machinery, plastics molding machinery, and crystalline silica.

Cooperative Programs

We assist companies in deciding whether to and how to participate in the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and the OSHA Alliance Program.

Unique Experience and Qualifications

Each member of our staff brings a unique perspective and understanding of the impact of government rules on our clients' operations. Most of the partners in our occupational health and safety practice group have technical backgrounds. One partner was an industrial hygienist and safety and health manager in the paint industry and in-house counsel to an asbestos-abatement company prior to joining the firm. Another partner worked in a ceramic tile manufacturing plant and engineering design firm while earning a degree in chemical engineering.

Many of our partners have formal educations in technical areas, including chemical engineering, industrial engineering, and toxicology. We are supported by the firm's scientific staff, which has two certified toxicologists, and many other scientists with extensive training and experience in statistics, toxicology, and risk assessment in the occupational safety and health arena. Our synergistic blend of in-house scientists and attorneys specializing in occupational safety and health allow us to address substantive issues both scientifically and legally.

Chemical management, including emergency preparedness and hazard communication (HazCom), remain one of the employment community's most significant challenges. We are positioned to assist clients in all aspects of compliance. This includes creating and auditing PSM, RMP, PPE and HazCom Programs and preparation of Safety Data Sheets, labels, programs, and training that meet the requirements of the OSHA and MSHA HazCom rules, California's Proposition 65, Canada's WHMIS program, the EU CLP and REACH programs, and corresponding requirements in the Pacific Rim. We are also experienced in addressing rapidly emerging issues, including those posed by public health emergencies such as SARS and the coronavirus. With in-house toxicologists, industrial hygienists, chemists and HazMat experts,  and the support of outside medical consultants as needed, our expertise allows us to craft effective hazard control and communication programs designed to meet applicable regulatory requirements, provide a safe workplace, and protect the reputation and good will of our clients.

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