Instead of “Play ball!” will it be “Play ball — but safely”?
It’s not likely, according to a Standard Interpretation Letter (SIL) released recently by OSHA.
A concerned baseball fan, Robert Van Laanen, wrote a letter to OSHA regarding the dangers of new wooden bats shattering.
The fan was concerned that increasing numbers of shattered bats might pose more hazards to players and spectators.
Van Laanen wanted to know if OSHA could press professional baseball to change back to sturdier wooden or metal bats.
The answer: Probably not.
In a response signed by the Director of Enforcement Programs, Richard Fairfax, OSHA said the answer depends on whether pro athletes meet the definition of “employee” under the Occupational Safety and Health Act or whether they’re independent contractors.
OSHA rules might apply only if they’re employees.
Fairfax’s letter goes on to note that the employee or contractor determination would need to be made on a case-by-case basis.
And even if they were considered employees, OSHA doesn’t have any specific, applicable standards that address protection for pro athletes.
What does this all boil down to? This statement: “In most cases, however, OSHA does not take enforcement action with regard to professional athletes.”
Leave it to OSHA to take a nine paragraph letter to say “No.”