Lawsuit May Jeopardize OSHA
Nineteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief in Allstates Refractory Contractors LLC v. Walsh, a case that challenges OSHA’s ability to issue permanent safety standards, arguing it’s unconstitutional. The attorneys general argue that OSHA’s permanent safety standards ensure workplace safety and are critical to their states’ own efforts to protect workers.
This case was brought before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division in September 2022 by Allstates Refractory Contractors LLC, a general contractor that provides furnace services to glass, metal, and petrochemical facilities. The case is currently on appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
In its lawsuit, the company argues that:
- OSHA’s authority to issue safety standards under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act is unconstitutionally broad,
- OSHA imposes penalties in a way that is arbitrary and abusive, and
- A number of OSHA standards are unnecessarily burdensome or dangerous.
Allstates also claims that the federal nondelegation doctrine prohibits OSHA from promulgating permanent safety standards. This doctrine is based on the principle that Congress can’t delegate its legislative powers to other entities.
The attorneys general of 19 states filed the amicus brief asking the Sixth Circuit to affirm the Ohio court’s decision. They argue that if the company’s lawsuit succeeds, it would mean that “OSHA would not be able to establish or enforce any safety standards, including the rules that require companies to take basic safeguards.” The lawsuit “threatens the stability of the statutory regime under which OSHA operates, and in doing so jeopardizes amici states’ ability to ensure the safety of workers in their jurisdictions.”