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Sat Aug 16, 2014, 02:21 PM

 

Police in Ferguson & OSHA violations

The Missouri highway police, clad in traditional blues, have replaced the St. Louis county police, who had been clad from head toe in riot gear -- helmets, shields, vests, etc.

While the county's use of tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bang style grenades, against innocent protesters, was clearly improper, I don't think that their use of Personal Protective Equipment (helmets, armor and shields) was inappropriate. There was and still is violent rioting separate from the protesters.

Last night, three highway troopers were injured in the looting and rioting.

The Missouri highway patrol has a duty to provide PPE to it's employees. I don't think their desire to present a kinder, gentler image supersedes the employee's right to work in a safe environment with adequate access to PPE.

OSHA defines PPE as:

What is personal protective equipment?

Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as "PPE", is equipment worn to minimize exposure to serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.

Snip

How do I find out about employer responsibilities and worker rights?

Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or worker rights.


I hope that Captain Johnson isn't setting himself up for some serious liability. Someone needs to blow the whistle on this.

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Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply Police in Ferguson & OSHA violations (Original post)
Michigander_Life Aug 2014 OP
Flyboy_451 Aug 2014 #1
Michigander_Life Aug 2014 #2
Flyboy_451 Aug 2014 #3
JJChambers Aug 2014 #4

Response to Michigander_Life (Original post)

Sat Aug 16, 2014, 03:04 PM

1. Depends on some possibilities...

If the officers were specifically told that they could not wear protective equipment and subsequently ordered into a situation that presented a valid concern for their safety, then yes, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

If it was a voluntary act for each individual officer, then I don't see a problem.

Had I been one of the officers involved with the situation, I likely would have been in my standard motor officer uniform, complete with helmet, with the addition of an exterior ballistic vest with rifle plate installed. This is the minimum that I would view as prudent, given the situation. To expect officers to approach a potentially dangerous situation, with only minimal safety equipment is foolhardy and reckless.

While Ferguson may be vey Mayberry like on a normal day, this past week has been anything but normal, or Mayberry like.

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Response to Flyboy_451 (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 16, 2014, 03:54 PM

2. Agreed.

 

OSHA and employee safety should supersede political posturing.

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Response to Michigander_Life (Reply #2)

Sat Aug 16, 2014, 04:03 PM

3. Here's another interesting question relating to the behavior in Ferguson

Captain Johnson changed the dynamics of the situation through behavior and appearance. How might he have been received by the protestors had he been dressed in protective equipment (but still with the same calm demeanor), or had it been a white officer that attempted the same things (with the same calm demeanor) dressed in the same manner as Johnson?

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Response to Flyboy_451 (Reply #3)

Sat Aug 16, 2014, 04:12 PM

4. Johnson was wonderful because he was empathetic with the protestors

 

He is an administrator and was marching with protesters and giving talks / interviews to media. It wouldn't be necessary or appropriate for him to wear PPE in that context.

The protesters and the rioters are separate. The officers dealing with the rioters and the looters need helmets, shields, armor and such.

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