Investigations Practice Background 2

Workplace Safety and OSHA Investigations


Workplace accidents can happen even when a company has an effective, robust and OSHA-compliant health, safety, and environmental (HSE) program. When serious incidents occur, companies turn to our attorneys experienced with managing the competing demands of swift but thorough internal investigation, the parallel investigation by and document disclosures to OSHA and other government regulators, and the inevitable administrative citations and civil litigation, all while maintaining privilege and protecting the company and management from referral for potential criminal prosecution. And if a criminal referral is made, we zealously defend our clients from indictment or prosecution. Crowell & Moring draws on its lawyers with deep investigation and litigation experience in occupational HSE matters, torts, and criminal defense, as well as industry experts in high-risk fields, such as mining, manufacturing, refining and energy, retail, construction, and agriculture, among others.

Crowell & Moring is particularly skilled in investigations and crisis management, and its litigators have a track record of successfully resolving - via settlement or trial - administrative, civil, and criminal matters related to workplace accidents, and in assisting corporations in auditing and revamping their compliance policies. We strive to accomplish all results with minimal impact on our clients’ business operations.


Employers are faced with seemingly endless regulatory requirements involving workplace health and safety. 

Our team addresses such concerns at the state and federal level, including Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Act (MSHA) issues, with a multidisciplinary approach to ensure that our clients can effectively evaluate risk in administrative, criminal, and civil prosecutions, defend against administrative citations, and take the necessary corrective or preventative action to protect employees from health and safety hazards at their facilities. We work with clients to evaluate the applicable (and often considerable) regulations and compliance obligations that cover their industries, and to ensure that best practices are implemented in effective injury and illness prevention programs and related policies. Working with our colleagues in our Labor & Employment Group, we are also sensitive to ancillary employment issues that may be implicated in workplace safety investigations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act, and workers’ compensation programs.

Our services include:

  • Managing workplace HSE audits, and overseeing safety and compliance trainings for all levels of company employees.
  • Advising on compliance and risk management policies, and supervising preparation of HSE compliance programs.
  • Assisting with compliance obligations under OSHA, HazCom, and other workplace safety regulations.
  • Representing employers in matters involving whistleblower and other employee safety retaliation claims, in addition to challenges involving employee discrimination or workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Handling internal and government investigations and hearings following workplace accidents.
  • Defending and counseling in related criminal, civil, and administrative litigation, including toxic or hazardous substances and product liability related to alleged OSHA or MSHA violations, as well as the underlying citations issued by OSHA, MSHA, or other agencies.

Representative Engagements

Crowell & Moring has represented a diverse range of clients facing investigations and litigation in response to workplace accidents. 

  • Represented a corporation against criminal and civil charges related to the accidental death of an employee at a recycling facility.
  • Represented an employee of major food supplier against criminal charges related to the accidental death of an employee at the supplier’s facility.
  • Represented a major government contractor in extensive and contentious OSHA citation proceedings arising from an employee-caused initiation incident at a munitions plant, and subsequent lead exposure investigations at the facility.
  • Counseled a client in anticipation of OSHA citations arising from a workplace electrocution, and litigated a subsequent wrongful death action.
  • Counseled multiple mining companies or their officers for over 30 years in connection with federal and state investigations of workplace fatalities and major mine disasters, as well as the resulting administrative litigation and related civil cases and criminal prosecutions.