Learn what the Safety professional needs to know to be classified as an expert witness in court. This session will prepare you for the newest decision of the court ruling under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals The Supreme Court's decision in Daubert lends itself to brisk summary. For many years, the admissibility of expert scientific evidence was governed by a common law rule of thumb known as the Frye test , after a 1923 decision by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in which it was first articulated. Under the Frye test, expert scientific evidence was admissible only if the principles on which it was based had gained "general acceptance" in the scientific community. Despite its widespread adoption by the courts, this "general acceptance" standard was viewed by many as unduly restrictive, because it sometimes operated to bar testimony based on intellectually credible but somewhat novel scientific approaches. In Daubert , the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether the Frye test had been superceded by the adoption, in 1973, of the Federal Rules of Evidence . After all, Fed. R. Evid. 702 , the rule broadly governing the admissibility of expert testimony, did not even mention "general acceptance," but simply provided: "If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise." The majority opinion in Daubert , authored by Justice Blackmun, held that Rule 702 did indeed supplant Frye . This did not mean, however, that all expert testimony purporting to be scientific was now to be admissible without further ado. Rule 702 did require, after all, that the testimony actually be founded on "scientific knowledge." This implied, according to the Court, that the testimony must be grounded in the methods and procedures of science -- a.k.a. "the scientific method." Evidence thus grounded, said the Court, would possess the requisite scientific validity to establish evidentiary reliability. The Court also noted Rule 702's requirement that expert testimony assist the trier of fact . This, according to Daubert , was primarily a question of relevance or "fit." The testimony must be sufficiently tied to the facts of the case, the Court held, to aid in the resolution of an issue in dispute. The Court explicitly refused to adopt any "definitive checklist or test" for determining the reliability of expert scientific testimony, and emphasized the need for flexibility. The Court did list several factors, however, that it thought would commonly be pertinent whether the theories and techniques employed by the scientific expert have been tested whether they have been subjected to peer review and publication whether the techniques employed by the expert have a known error rate whether they are subject to standards governing their application whether the theories and techniques employed by the expert enjoy widespread acceptance.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 gives the Secretary of Labor the authority to promulgate standards relating to occupational safety and health on the basis of information provided to him / her by concerned and qualified organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), National Electrical Code (NEC) or individuals. The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) is authorized under Section 22C of the Act to develop and establish recommended occupational safety & health standards. An extremely important area of the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970 are the Federal OSHA standards, which protects a machine operator from hazards, associated with machinery and its operations. However, too frequently, the purpose of machine safeguarding is misunderstood in that it is thought to concern itself with the point of operation hazards only. The definition of Point of Operation is "The area on a machine at which work is performed on the material being processed". Too many times the positioning of electrical controls, separate & properly installed emergency stops, guarding of belts and pulleys, non-slip walking surfaces, protection from flying chips and sparks, and proper color-coding of machine guards and parts are often neglected when manufactures are building equipment or when safety professionals are conducting inspections of machinery. Specifically, machine safeguarding protects against and prevents injury from the following sources: Direct contact with the moving parts of a machine Splashing of hot metal or chemicals and metal chips from machine tool operations Mechanical and electrical failures (Power outage protection) Human failure, resulting from human traits such as curiosity, distraction, fatigue, worry, anger, illness, as well as deliberate chance taking. An effective machine safety program must begin with a thorough analysis of the potential hazards created by the machines used in your facility. You need to identify the specific hazards both mechanical and non-mechanical. Basically, your goal in conducting a hazards analysis will be to identify existing or potential hazards at each phase of the machines' operation. On the basis of this analysis, you will then be able to determine the best way to reduce or eliminate those hazards. Machine hazard analysis consists of four elements: Determine the steps in operating the machine. For example: What hazard(s) is the operator exposed to when he / she is setting up or starting up the machine? What hazard(s) is the operator exposed to when performing a particular job? What hazard(s) are present when the operator or maintenance person must make adjustments on the machine? What hazard(s) are present when performing cleaning or clearing of the machine? Identify existing or potential hazards for each operating step. For each step there may be one or more existing or potential hazards associated with whatever actions the operator is taking. Example: is the worker wearing clothing or jewelry, or does the operator have long hair that could get caught in the machine?