Sunday, October 27, 2013

MetWest, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor case brief

MetWest, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor case brief summary
560 F.3d 506 (2009)

Petitioner, a laboratory company, sought review of a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Review Commission, upholding a citation against the company for allowing its employees to remove needles from reusable blood tube holders, in violation of 29 C.F.R. § 1910.1030(d)(2)(vii)(A).

In 1991, OSHA promulgated  a statute which prohibited employers from removing needles from blood-drawing equipment unless there was no feasible alternative or such was required due to the nature of a medical procedure. The rule was not enforced until OSHA issued a 2003 guidance document stating that reusable blood tube holders, which required removal of the needle, likely violated § 1910.1030(d)(2)(vii)(A). In 2004, the company was cited for using reusable holders. The company argued that OSHA effectively amended the rule without employing the procedures required under 5 U.S.C.S. § 553.

  • The court disagreed. 
  • First, OSHA never interpreted the rule to allow the use of reusable holders in all situations. 
  • Second, the guidance documents OSHA issued over the years were consistent with each other and with the rule. 
  • Third, the change in enforcement policy was expected, as the availability of disposable holders had become widespread. 
  • Finally, the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act did not vest the company with discretion to determine the safest medical device for each of its facilities without regard to the regulations.

The court denied the company's petition for review.

Recommended Supplements for Administrative Law Examples & Explanations: Administrative Law, Fourth Edition
Administrative Law and Process: In a Nutshell (Nutshell Series)

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