Employers must adhere to the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, especially as they relate to dangers such as falling from heights, electrocution, trench collapse or being injured by machinery. Employers who fail to comply with basic regulations open themselves to lawsuits as well as significant OSHA fines and sanctions.
Workers who are injured as a result of non-compliance with OSHA regulations may have a claim that goes beyond workers’ compensation. Property owners, utility companies and other third parties may also be liable for personal injury damages if they contributed to a dangerous work environment.
Industry hazards injure thousands of workers
Hazards exist in every type of industry, whether it is construction, energy, manufacturing or some other line of work. Most companies strive to maintain safety procedures that conform to OSHA standards. Yet despite gradual progress, workplace injuries still occur with troubling frequency. In 2016, 3 million American workers were injured on the job, and 4,500 were killed.
Certain hazards consistently injure workers
The top five safety and health violations for which OSHA issued citations in 2016 were (a) insufficient protection against falls, (2) lack of proper hazard communication, (3) faulty scaffolding, (4) lack of respiratory protection and (5) lockout-tagout violations on workplace machinery.
There is a strong correlation between OSHA violations and the “Big Four” causes of construction fatalities:
Falls — Lack of guard rails, tethers or safety nets; unsafe ladders and scaffolds
Electrocution — Exposed or improperly grounded wiring, contact with overhead power lines, and other electrical hazards
Struck by — Lack of safety helmets or protective eyewear, working below or too near hazards
Caught in — Dismantled guards on machinery, override of lockout/tagout procedures, kill switches not functioning or out of reach
Struggling with many laws
Business owners must follow many laws and standards imposed by both state and federal governments. This is no excuse for not implementing required safety measures, however. In fact, to reduce the possibility of injuries, OSHA suggests that companies hire a team to conduct a safety audit. These specialists can ensure OSHA compliance, reduce the company’s liability and suggest best practices. Employers who engaged the services of such a team might well have been prevented accidents in your workplace.
Examining your options
If you are injured as the result of a breach of OSHA regulations, you might wish to consider your options in terms of financial compensation. An attorney experienced with both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims can explore the possibility of a settlement with the liable parties, in addition to any workers’ comp the claim you are entitled to submit.