Sec'y of Labor v. ConocoPhillips Bayway Ref., No. 10-2893 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
The Secretary of Labor cited the refinery for nine "serious" violations of the asbestos in construction standard, which prescribes protective requirements based on measurable concentration of asbestos fibers to which employees are or may be exposed. The ALJ affirmed the violations and the classification. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission reduced the classification to "other than serious" under 29 U.S.C. 666, in part because the Secretary failed to present case-specific evidence of possible employee exposure to asbestos. The Third Circuit vacated and remanded for the citations to be affirmed as "serious." Precedent only requires that there could be exposure to asbestos that is substantially probable to lead to serious harm. Applying this standard, the violations were "serious;" there is no need for case-specific evidence. If the Secretary has shown violations of regulations involving Class II work and the presence of asbestos, the burden shifts to the employer to show that the violations were not "serious."