Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 11:13:28 -0700
Reply-To: Michael Cooper <mcooper**At_Symbol_Here**EXPONENT.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Michael Cooper <mcooper**At_Symbol_Here**EXPONENT.COM>
Subject: FW: [DCHAS-L] 2 RE: Safety contracts

Eric's suggestion is a reasoned, albeit defensive, approach and one I have utilized in industry.  One point, however, is that documenting unresolved serious safety issues can generate significant liability for the organization. This can be perceived as unacceptable and refractory behavior by management and the inevitable attorneys involved.  When real change is so very slow in coming this seems justified, however, most of us are in this profession to make positive changes and we typically need to work from within the organization to accomplish this.    

Another approach is to continue to spend the time/effort to creatively bring the issues to the correct level of management that is ultimately responsible & liable. This is the long, harder, more frustrating road.  Sometimes this involves discussions with the Governing Boards, attorneys, departments etc. to try and obtain resolution. Most industry/academic attorneys would much rather discuss, resolve, and create the necessary pressure to affect solutions before the "body count" happens.  Sometimes it means bringing in outside help to convince management of what is plainly obvious to the safety staff.  Sometimes this means forming a consortium or group of EHS professionals from sister organizations (or even competitors) with the goal of making positive & lasting changes by benchmarking and sharing best practices.   

Regarding safety contracts, I spoke with a colleague who practices OSHA law. State statute of limitations for negligence varies quite a bit --between one and three years.  Note that it depends on the type of negligence.  As an example in California, it is now two years for negligence  (used to be one) but three if based on a statutory obligation, and many safety claims are so based. By the way, safety contracts are only one piece of the puzzle.  You would never be able to waive an occupational hazard by way of a safety contract.   

with regards,



Michael N. Cooper MS, MPH, CIH

Sr. Managing Scientist

Exponent / Failure Analysis

149 Commonwealth Drive

Menlo Park, California  94025

(650) 688-1760

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From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of List Moderator
Sent: Wednesday, August 05, 2009 1:54 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 2 RE: Safety contracts

From: "Dr. Jay A. Young" <chemsafety**At_Symbol_Here**>

Date: August 5, 2009 4:41:29 PM EDT

Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 2 RE: Safety contracts


Yes indeed, by all means do follow Eric's excellent suggestion.  From 

your description of conditions, it is inevitable that there will be a 

serious incident and at that time you may well find that your file 

will be very valuable indeed to the attorney that has been hired by 

the injured party--or by his/her survivors.

Jay Young

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