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ASSE Joins Brief to Support Employer Rights
March 12, 2008

The “American Society of Safety Engineers”: (ASSE) joined with ASIS International and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in recently filing an amici curiae brief urging the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm a 2007 federal district court ruling that found two so-called “forced entry laws” in Oklahoma unconstitutional. The Oklahoma laws would have prevented employers from setting workplace safety rules barring guns to be brought on employer property in a locked vehicle.

The U.S. Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, in a suit filed against Oklahoma by ConocoPhillips and other employer plaintiffs (ConocoPhillips v. Henry), held that the Oklahoma’s “forced entry laws” conflicted with the general duty clause of the federal Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970. The general duty clause requires employers to protect their employees against avoidable and recognizable hazards that may not be addressed by specific workplace safety and health standards promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Since federal laws preempt state law, the OSH Act preempted the Oklahoma laws.

“We are pleased today to be able to support employers’ most fundamental right, which is to determine how best to run their businesses and keep their employees and property safe,” said ASSE President Michael W. Thompson, CSP. “Employers hire our member safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals to determine just how best to protect workers. Whether, in their best judgment, protecting workers and property means keeping guns out of parking lots or not, that decision must be made by an employer and an SH&E professional. Those sometimes difficult decisions cannot be made by a state governor or legislature substituting political decisions for professional judgment about how best to protect workers under duties employers have under the OSH Act’s general duty clause.”

The cost of workplace violence to employers alone has been estimated at $4 billion a year, which is supported by ASSE’s 2004 Workplace Violence Survey and White Paper.

For a full copy of the ASSE 2004 Workplace Violence Survey & White Paper please go to the ASSE website.

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