Phillip B. Russell

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Phillip is a board-certified OSHA and employment lawyer, litigator, and advisor.  He has practiced for more than 27 years and has developed a reputation for being a strategic, practical, and trusted partner to clients on labor and employment matters. One of Phillips’ strengths is developing teams and deploying firm resources to ensure clients receive the best possible service and results.

OSHA Inspections, Citations, and Litigation. Phillip and his teams have helped clients with more than 200 workplace fatality inspections and several hundred more types of routine inspections. Their goal is to avoid or minimize OSHA citations. Phillip and his teams work with in-house counsel, safety professionals, HR, and executive leadership to navigate through complex and trying times by bringing calm to chaos and a plan to uncertainty. One client’s in-house attorney recently said, “Phillip and his team gave us calm clarity with practical solutions to help our people and our business after we had a fatal accident on one our job sites.”

Through his leadership in responding to a multi-person, high-stakes workplace fatality for a client, Phillip exemplified the firm’s Client Pledge to serve clients at the highest level through value, innovation, quality, collaboration, and communication. The client’s general counsel commented that, “Phillip responded to the crisis with a firm understanding of the legal issues and business impact and lead the team with resolve, focus, and a plan.” – Ogletree Deakins – Living the Client Pledge Award 2018

OSHA Training and Advice. Phillip works with clients to train and educate safety professionals and management on what to do if OSHA shows up and other related topics. He advises clients on compliance and regulatory issues.

OSHA Regulatory and Policy Advocacy.  Phillip represents and advises industry associations and large national employers regarding OSHA’s regulatory and policy initiatives and priorities. He was a leading voice for employers in opposing the COVID Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately struck down.

OSHA Thought Leader. Phillip is recognized as a thought leader on OSHA and workplace safety and health legal issues. He hosts the firm’s OSHA podcast Dirty Steel-Toe Boots, has twice edited the ABA’s seminal treatise on OSHA law, regularly posts OSHA updates on LinkedIn, and speaks and writes regularly for industry groups and professional associations.

Employment Litigator and Advisor. Phillip serves as lead counsel on high-stakes employment litigation matters that pose significant risk to his client’s business. He is also a strategic, practical, and trusted legal advisor on labor and employment matters. Phillip helps his clients by mobilizing firm and third-party resources using his experience, knowledge, and business understanding to drive strategy recommendations.

Personal. Phillip and his wife, Liz, are parents to two adult daughters, Madison and Ally, and one teenage son, Gavin. He loves spending time with his family and boating, diving, spear fishing, fishing, and hunting. Phillip’s first job was bagging groceries and stocking shelves in his family’s grocery stores. He is a Ramblin Wreck from Georgia Tech, and he never wears red and black!

Advocate for Autism Issues and Awareness.  Phillip and Liz co-founded Autism Inspired Academy in Clearwater, Florida. The school helps children on the spectrum build and sustain lives of meaning, purpose, and joy. The school has approximately 75 enrolled students, including their 15-year-old son, Gavin.

Learn more about Phillip B. Russell

Phillip is a go-to lawyer when OSHA performs investigations following a fatality or other catastrophic incident. He has handled OSHA matters across many industries, including transportation infrastructure construction, commercial electrical contracting, and other construction industry sectors.

Fatal Struck-by Incident Results in No OSHA Citation

Client: Large international construction company with transportation infrastructure projects, including roadways and bridges.

Incident: At one of the client’s largest bridge replacement projects, a worker was fatally injured when he was hit by a dump truck. We deployed our resources to the job site immediately and worked with the client’s executive, project management, and safety teams to plan and prepare for the OSHA on-site inspection. When OSHA’s compliance officer arrived, we represented the client for the on-site inspection, employee interviews, management interviews, and production of requested documents and information.

Impact on the Client and Our Goal: Being struck by trucks or heavy equipment is a major hazard the company’s workers encounter every day, so it was critical to achieve a favorable outcome. An adverse result could have a financial impact, such as millions of dollars in lost revenue and future projects. The fatality was covered widely in the news and immediately caused the company to undergo heightened public scrutiny following other, unrelated issues the company faced on the same project. An adverse outcome on this matter would have had an immeasurable impact on the company’s business and reputation with workers. Our goal was to show OSHA the company had a robust safety program that included rules and procedures, training, compliance, and enforcement components and either avoid or minimize an OSHA citation.

Result: OSHA concluded its six-month inspection of the job site following the fatality. OSHA did not issue a citation. The matter was closed with the best outcome for the client.

Fatal Trenching Accident Results in No OSHA Citation

Client: Foundation construction company specializing in transportation infrastructure and large scale foundations.

Incident: An employee suffered fatal injuries when an 8-foot deep trench collapsed on him. The client engaged Phillip and his team a week after reporting the fatality to OSHA. We worked with the client’s executive, project management, and safety teams to plan and prepare for the continuing OSHA on-site inspection. We represented the client for the on-site inspection, employee interviews, management interviews, and production of requested documents and information.

Impact on the Client and Our Goal: Trenches are a major hazard the company’s workers encounter every day, so it was critical to achieve a favorable outcome.  The company is a relatively young and small, but fast growing, construction company that could have lost work and bidding opportunities with a negative outcome. Our goal was to show OSHA the company had a robust safety program that included rules and procedures, training, compliance, and enforcement components and either avoid or minimize an OSHA citation. We also needed to show the employee had no known reason to be in or near the trench and his supervisor—who was working on a backhoe at the trench—did not see the employee enter the trench.

Result: OSHA closed its inspection file after deciding not to issue a citation because the company had done all it could do to address trenching hazards and avoid this accident from happening. It also determined the supervisor did not know the employee had entered or was nearby the trench. The client’s owner was thrilled with the favorable outcome.

Fatal Fall Accident Results in Limited Citation

Client: A large national construction company.

Fatal Incident: A worker at a bridge demolition project fell and suffered fatal injuries when the final span of the old bridge unexpectedly collapsed. We deployed our resources to the job site immediately and worked with the client’s executive, project management, and safety teams to plan and prepare for OSHA’s on-site inspection. When OSHA’s compliance officer arrived, we represented the client for the on-site inspection, employee interviews, management interviews, and production of requested documents and information.

Impact on the Client and Our Goal: Falls are a major hazard the company’s workers encounter every day, so it was critical to achieve a favorable outcome, which was to avoid a willful citation. An adverse result could negatively affect the company’s reputation with workers and have a financial impact on the company, resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue. Our goal was to show OSHA the company had a robust safety program that included rules and procedures, training, compliance, and enforcement components and either avoid or minimize an OSHA citation.

Result: The client signed a settlement agreement with OSHA, in which the company agreed to serious (but not willful) violations of two OSHA demolition standards and a reduced penalty. The client was thrilled with the outcome because we avoided a willful classification of any alleged violations. This also helped our client minimize any personal injury liability and regulatory issues.

Other Representative Matters

Representative Clients

Acme Barricades, L.C.; Ajax Paving Industries of Florida; All Phase Electric and Maintenance, Inc.; Alliance Power Solutions, Inc.; APG Electric; Avila Golf & Country Club; Boar’s Head Brands; Condotte America, P.E.; Cornerstone Building Brands, Inc.; David Nelson Construction, Inc.; Doyle Electric Services, Inc.; E.M. Enterprises General Contractors, Inc.; General Asphalt Company, Inc.; Hudson Meridian Construction Group; IES Holdings, Inc.; M of Tallahassee, Inc.; Mainline Information Systems, Inc.; Ned Stevens Gutter Cleaning, Inc.; Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc.; PCL Construction Enterprises, Inc.; PODS Enterprises, LLC; Reed TMS Logistics; Ross Security Systems Inc. d/b/a Synergy Florida; S&S Electric Company, Inc.; Southeastern Construction & Maintenance, Inc.; Tampa Tank Inc./Florida Structural Steel; Tucker Paving Inc.; V.E. Whitehurst & Sons, Inc.; Watson Civil Construction, Inc.; Waste Pro USA, Inc.; Woodruff & Sons, Inc.; Yellowstone Landscape, Inc.

Representative Industries

Education

Admittance to Practice

Professional Activities

Industry Associations

  • Florida Transportation Builders Association (Labor & Employment Counsel; Safety Committee Co-Chair 2016-2020; Safety Committee Member)
  • ARTBA Member
  • Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), Florida West Coast Chapter (Outside Counsel)
  • IEC National, and numerous IEC Chapters nationwide, including the Florida West Coast, Atlanta, Georgia, and Austin chapters

Bar Association Committees

  • American Bar Association (Workplace and Occupational Safety & Health Law Committee; Labor & Employment and Litigation Sections)
  • Florida Bar Association (Labor & Employment Section’s Workplace Health and Safety Committee)
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association (Labor & Employment Section Co-Chair, 2008-2009)
  • Georgia Bar Association (Labor & Employment Section)
  • Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) – West Central Florida Chapter

SHRM

  • HR Florida State Council (Outside Counsel)
  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and numerous SHRM Chapters, including HR Tampa, Sarasota-Manatee Human Resources Association (SHRA), Big Bend Society for Human Resource Management (BBSHRM), Keys SHRM, Lake Sumter SHRM, HR Association of Broward County (HRABC), and others

Community Service / Charitable Activities

  • Autism Inspired Academy, co-founder and scholarship committee member
  • Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County, Inc., Board Member (Governor Appointed) (May 2016-2020)

Speeches

Insights by Phillip B. Russell