Seventh Circuit Court Overturns OSHA’s Decision to Fine Caterpillar, Inc. for Failing to Document Work-Related Injury

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) $900 fine against the mega construction and farming equipment company Caterpillar, Inc., was thrown out by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The fine cited Caterpillar for failing to document that one of its employees had contracted epicondylitis. In what became an increasingly contentious round of testimonies by expert panels, witnesses and appeals for reconsideration, Caterpillar ultimately succeeded in reversing the fine.

Epicondylitis is inflammation of one or more tendons near the elbow. According to the Mayo Clinic, the condition, known as “tennis elbow”, occurs when tendons in the elbow are overworked as the result of repetitive motions in the wrist and arm. It causes pain primarily located in the tendons where forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow Despite what the name suggests, the vast majority of cases are seen in people who don’t play tennis at all. Those whose jobs require types of motions that can lead to tennis elbow include plumbers, painters, carpenters and butchers. If normal rest and over-the-counter medications don’t relieve pain, surgery may be required. It is also seen most commonly between the ages of 30 and 50 and is seen in about 1-2% of the population.

The plaintiff, known as “MK”, was employed in a packing center for Caterpillar where staffers placed items from containers into boxes for shipping out to customers. The job led to repetitive hand movements and turning of MK’s wrists, elbows and shoulders, leading to the contraction of epicondylitis. Once OSHA was made aware of the case, the agency proceeded to issue the fine to Caterpillar for failing to record the injury, which is required under federal law.

A Caterpillar bulldozer in a trade-show display

Greater Boston Area Man Killed by Falling 12,000-Pound Steel Beam
Questions Remain Over Death of Experienced Sanctuary Worker Killed by Wildcat