Secure Your Rights if You Suffered Injuries in a Workplace Violating OSHA Standards
Whether you are an employee or employer, you should know about The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers in most businesses must follow OSHA guidelines for employee safety. Thus, when an employee injury occurs on the job, employers and employees may look to OSHA guidelines to confirm whether the business follows government safety regulations. As an injured employee, you should file a claim for unsafe conditions at the workplace that caused or contributed to your injuries, as you may be entitled to compensation.
The first place to check is OSHA laws for your workplace. Knowing your rights and speaking with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer should be paramount on your list of things to do after a workplace accident. New Jersey has strict laws that apply to workers in Woodbridge, Hopewell, East Windsor, Pennington, Hamilton, and throughout Burlington and Mercer County. OSHA’s regulations are equally stringent, and if they are not followed and someone gets hurt, the injured victim has multiple options for seeking compensation. Contact our Cohen & Riechelson seasoned lawyers at (609) 528-2596 for immediate assistance with a case involving injuries and safety standards on the job. When you need skilled advice and representation, our firm can help.
What is OSHA and What is Its Role?
OSHA is a governmental agency organized for employee safety under the U.S. Department of Labor. They set standards for private businesses though not certain public employers. New Jersey’s OSHA counterpart oversees the state’s public employers. The agency’s primary focus is developing employee protection guidelines for employers. They aim for employers to comply with the rules, regulations, and standards to eliminate known hazards at the workplace. They inspect workplaces for compliance, ensuring employees know to use tools and equipment safely.
For example, industries that are inherently dangerous by what they do must obey stringent OSHA laws regarding protective equipment and workplace dangers. The laws may include mandatory training for handling workplace hazards and accessible medical testing. As such, OSHA regulations target businesses with ten or more employees and maritime, low hazard (commercial, retail, and financial), general industry, construction, and agricultural business. Companies governed by OSHA must report injuries and illnesses annually, some on a case-by-case basis.
Workers Protected by OSHA Regulations
Longshoremen, construction workers, field hands, animals, and medical providers all fall under the protection of OSHA industry standards. OSHA regulations cover industries prone to injury and illness, such as shipyards, construction, healthcare, and farming businesses. OSHA may require employers to provide safety and training to those in hazardous professions to recognize dangerous environmental conditions that may cause slip and fall accidents, hazardous chemical exposure, and equipment malfunctions; thus, training includes equipment safety checks. OSHA rules may require asbestos monitoring, food, water, bathroom provision, warning signs, and medical testing for exposure to infectious agents.
Most Common Accidents and Causes when Failing to Comply with OSHA Regulations
When employers or employees disregard OSHA requirements, someone often gets hurt. OSHA’s recent reporting of the top ten violations in 2020 confirmed increased worker injuries during 2020. OSHA reports the most frequent violations causing falls and inhalation of hazardous materials. OSHA safety guidelines for preventing falls, including training for fall prevention, top the list of violations, followed by communication gaps in hazard warnings.
Violations regarding scaffolding, ladders, and power equipment, such as trucks and machinery, appear on the violations list as well. Failed respiratory, eye, and face protection and controlling hazardous energy violations also led to injuries in 2020. OSHA claims that top-notch employee safety training for all employees may improve awareness and lower injury rates. Construction and general industry suffer the most violations and lead the pack in injuries, not coincidentally.
Falls at the Top of the List in Construction
Falls top the list of injuries in construction, where workers often work higher than six feet up on scaffolding, ladders, or construction beams. Training for properly using ladders and scaffolding with safety mechanisms may lower those numbers. Using and updating fall protection gear is also essential.
Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals
For industries that deal in hazardous chemicals, education is most effective in protecting against chemical exposure. Clear labeling, instruction, and emergency procedures must be prominent, updated, and up to OSHA labeling standards.
During Covid, many employers violated requirements to provide employees with adequate PPE, leading to respiratory and other illnesses. Other respiratory issues involve breathing poisonous particles in dust, smoke, fumes, sprays, and gas.
Other Frequent Accidents due to OSHA Violations
Electrocution, burns, and fractures occur when machines fail and release explosive hazardous energy. Finally, inadequately guard-protected machines, misused trucks and forklifts, and flying debris and chemicals cause broken bones, blindness, skull fractures, spinal injuries, and deaths.
Possible Penalties for Employers Violating OSHA Guidelines
OSHA violations lead to life-changing injuries for many. To dissuade employers from violating employee safeguards, OSHA penalizes violators. For serious and other offenses, an employer pays $14,502.00 per violation. Serious violations refer to known workplace dangers causing accidents, injuries, or illnesses that could lead to permanent harm or death. And if the employer still needs to comply with the rules and abate violations, they pay $14,502 each day past the deadline to comply. For repeat offenders, the penalty is $145,027 per violation. And while OSHA cannot shut a business down, they can order that work under risky conditions cease.
What Are the Options for an Employee Injured at Work?
When an employee gets hurt on the job, they are responsible for reporting the injury, accident, or illness and circumstances. After promptly reporting an incident, they can claim against their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance to cover treatment, rehabilitation, and a possible return to work. Employees must cooperate with their employer, case manager, and treatment plan. However, employers who violate safety standards deliberately rather than negligently may risk a lawsuit. So, the employer who has repeated OSHA violations may be subject to getting sued when employees get hurt in an unsafe work environment.
A Knowledgeable OSHA Violation Attorney Can Significantly Impact the Outcome of Your Case
Whether you file a workers’ compensation claim or a lawsuit for your injuries, you should get an attorney to help you file the proper paperwork and advocate for your interests. The insurer’s workers’ compensation adjuster is not your advocate. They will not ensure you get the settlement award you deserve as their job is to protect the interests of the insurance company and employer. Their job is to ensure the employer follows workers’ compensation law and save the insurance company money. Thus, you need an advocate to fight for compensation to cover your medical, therapeutic, and economic needs. A workers’ compensation attorney at our Cohen & Riechelson can do just that.
An accomplished personal injury lawyer such as those at our office in Trenton is also important to contact if you plan to sue your employer for jeopardizing your well-being with gross negligence or intentional risks inherent in unsafe work conditions. As experienced personal injury attorneys and workers’ compensation attorneys, we handle all aspects of injury claims arising in the workplace in Robbinsville, Ewing, Lambertville, Edison, Princeton, and throughout Mercer, Burlington, and Middlesex County.
Contact CR Law Firm
With over 5 decades of experience, we are poised to help you get the compensation you deserve by law, reach a settlement, or bring your case to trial. Call Cohen & Riechelson to talk to a lawyer now who can counsel you on how to proceed through the workers’ compensation or civil court system with an injury lawsuit. You can learn about and further explore your available options in an initial free consultation. Call (609) 528-2596 for advice as soon as possible after your injury at work occurs.