Ever wonder to what extent Utah adopts or recognizes the federal occupational safety and health administration’s standards (OSHA)? If so, this blog post is right up your alley. The Utah Supreme Court has held that federal OSHA standards may be relied on in establishing the standard of reasonable care employers should be operating by. The court has also held, however, that when a conflict exists between the federal and state OSHA standards, Utah’s OSHA standards will be followed.
Standard of Care
“Because [federal] OSHA standards are so widely known, understood, and followed, they constitute a legitimate source for determining the standard of reasonable care, and we hereby approve of their use.” Slisze v. Stanley-Bostitch, 1999 UT 20, ¶ 18, 979 P.2d 317, 321. In Slisze, the court found that federal OSHA standards were admissible as government standards established for an industry, which created rebuttable presumption of non-defectiveness in products liability action against manufacturer of pneumatic nailer. Id.
Conflict in Statutes
Where a conflict between the federal OSHA and Utah OSHA exist, Utah OSHA will be followed. Hughes Gen. Contractors, Inc. v. Utah Labor Comm’n, 2014 UT 3, ¶ 23, 322 P.3d 712, 717. In this case the Utah Supreme Court was asked to determine the viability of the so-called multi-employer work site doctrine under the Utah Occupational Safety and Health Act (UOSHA). The doctrine makes a general contractor responsible for the occupational safety of all workers on a work site—even those who are not the contractor’s employees. Id. at 714. Federal OSHA regulations adopted this doctrine, and federal courts have upheld it as consistent with the governing federal statute. Id. Justice Lee, writing for a unanimous court, held that the Utah OSHA standards were distinguishable, and, as a result, the federal OSHA standard did not apply. Id. at 716–17.