Washington DC January 22 2021
The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission on Wednesday vacated a citation issued to a security guard company hired to protect Pennsylvania Turnpike fare collectors when one of its employees was killed by an armed robber in 2016.
In Secretary of Labor v. Schaad Detective Agency, Inc., filed in Washington, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Schaad Detective Agency over its alleged failure to enforce the personal protective equipment standard after it was discovered that while the agency provided bullet-proof vests, it did not require that they be worn by its armed guards.
As chronicled in court records, on the morning of the shooting the deceased armed guard, who typically did not wear a provided bulletproof vest because he thought it was “uncomfortable,” was riding in the passenger seat of an unmarked toll collection van containing $58,000 and driven by a toll booth teller, according to documents.
At one interchange near rural Littleton, Pennsylvania, a retired Pennsylvania state trooper of 25 years, armed with multiple guns and wearing body armor and a camouflage mask, approached the van “with the intent to commit robbery.”
In the course of the attempted robbery, he shot Schaad’s armed guard and another turnpike employee, killing them both.
An administrative law judge vacated the citation in 2018, concluding that the PPE standard did not apply because OSHA failed to provide notice that bullet-proof vests were required to be worn to meet the PPE standard:
“The Secretary has provided insufficient notice to Respondent that bullet-proof vests were required to be worn by its armed security guards at the (Pennsylvania) Turnpike worksite.
“The Secretary’s arguments regarding whether bullet-proof vests are considered PPE are not persuasive. Yes, just as being shot is undisputedly a severe hazard, a bullet-proof vest is a form of PPE. The question, however, is whether Respondent had notice that they were required to be worn by its armed security guards at its worksite on March 20, 2016.”
The full commission agreed that the PPE standard does not apply.
“We find that the Secretary has failed to show that a ‘reasonable person familiar with the circumstances surrounding the hazardous condition would recognize . . . a hazard’ necessitating the use of bulletproof vests,” the latest ruling states.