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Despite the safety measures observed in workplaces, injuries are still possible. However, they could be much more severe if certain safety measures have not been put in place. The good news is that if you are injured, you are entitled to compensation from your employer’s insurance company.
Aside from seeking compensation from your company’s insurer, you may choose to pursue another legal option if the workplace accident was caused because of a specific safety violation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governs the safety protocols for employers in different work environments.
Suppose your company failed to observe a safety measure stipulated by OSHA. In this case, an Ohio workers’ compensation lawyer might advise you to seek a personal injury case against your company.
OSHA is a regulatory agency set up by Congress to enforce the stipulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act enacted in 1970. The agency ensures the implementation of safety measures stated in the Act to provide a safe environment for employees.
Most OSHA regulations include setting up sanitation requirements and other basic safety procedures, such as the safe operation of equipment. Other stipulations include mandating employers to notify OSHA of any reported workplace injury. Where the employer fails to abide by OSHA regulations, they will be brought under sanctions, which may involve violation fees.
To ensure that organizations in the public and private sectors comply with national safety regulations, OSHA sends out inspectors. However, complaints about safety by employees can also initiate an OSHA inspection. These inspections may reveal violations of OSHA stipulations, which can be mild to extremely dangerous.
Below are five categories of OSHA violations that can result in sanctions.
This violation is directly related to health and safety but not likely to result in death or grievous physical harm. The most severe penalty for an other-than-serious violation is $7,000. Examples include failing to keep copies of safety regulations and posting necessary documentation in work areas.
However, inspectors may decide not to levy a fine or to lower the penalty if the employer faithfully abides by other regulations and has no record of previous violations. Where, after these considerations, the sanction amounts to less than $100, no sanction will be proposed.
A violation is deemed severe where there is a likelihood that: Death or grievous physical harm could result from the breach of the OSHA provision, and the employer is aware or should have known about the danger the violation posed but did nothing to correct the situation.
Severe violations can incur sanctions of up to $7,000. However, this amount can be reduced if there is proof of good faith and no record of previous violations, size of the organization and the level of seriousness of the violation in question. Severe violations include slipping and tripping hazards, failure to provide training equipment, noise hazards, and exposure to hazardous chemicals.
A willful violation occurs where the employer deliberately committed a violation or was blatantly indifferent to OSHA provisions. The employer not only knew their actions were a breach of OSHA rules, but also did nothing to improve the situation.
Sanctions for willful violations range from $5,000 to $70,000, depending on the severity of the breach. Like the violations discussed above, sanctions can be reduced if there is proof of good faith and no record of previous violations.
Notably, no consideration is made for good faith when an employee dies from injuries sustained because of a violation. The violation becomes a criminal charge with the barest fine of $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for an organization and imprisonment, which may last for up to six months. An example of a willful violation is a terrible accident because the employer failed to abide by safety procedures for equipment that had caused injuries.
Where an employer had received a citation for a violation and an inspection within five years after the citation revealed a similar breach, the employer is said to have committed a repeat violation. Inspectors may sanction the employer up to $70,000 for each repeat violation.
Where an employer has been cited, the citation usually shows the date by which the employer must have remedied the situation. If they fail to correct the problem by the said date, they will be liable to pay a fine of $7,000 every day that the violation persists after the abatement day.
Whether an injured worker can use OSHA violation evidence to back up a claim for worker’s compensation varies to state laws and jurisdictions. There are some courts that will not lift the prohibition to use this evidence unless it was done repeatedly, willfully, or caused death to a worker.
However, some courts use several different factors to determine if the prohibition should be set aside. Working with a worker’s compensation lawyer, Ohio workers injured on the job can get clarification about the effect of an OSHA violation on their worker’s compensation claim.
If you were the victim of a workplace injury in Ohio and are wondering if it is better to seek a personal injury claim or a workers’ compensation claim, it is advisable to get in touch with a worker’s compensation lawyer. The experienced attorneys at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy Personal Injury Lawyers in Cleveland, OH, will be able to assess the facts of your case and provide relevant answers that will help you decide which claim to pursue. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.
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