Workers’ Rights

Protect Workers against Work Place Accidents and Injuries: An OSHA Mandate to Employers

Posted by on Dec 13, 2016 in Workers' Rights | 0 comments

Accomplishing more in much lesser time is one of the greatest challenges construction firms need to face to keep up with the demands of progress. With buildings becoming bigger, taller and more intricately designed, however, work becomes more demanding and more dangerous. Many construction firms, as a consequence, also require workers to render longer work periods – an employer requirement that posts threats to workers’ health and safety.

Risk of accidents and injuries in construction sites are increased due to the presence of dangerous tools and heavy machinery, like cranes, concrete mixers, forklifts, bulldozers, loaders, caterpillars, excavators, crawlers and road rollers. Though these machines make construction tasks easier and faster to accomplish, their huge size and wrong operation, especially if the operator is untrained or careless, can result to disabling or even fatal injuries.

Due to increased risk of accidents and injuries construction workers get exposed to every day, the U.S. Congress passed into law (in 1970) the Occupational Safety and Health Act (or OSH Act). The Act aims to: ensure all working men and women of safe and healthful working conditions; assist and encourage the States in their efforts in ensuring safe and healthful working conditions; provide for information, education, research and training in the area of occupational safety and health; and, authorize enforcement of the standards developed under the Act. Enforcement of these standards has been delegated by OSH Act to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which was created in 1971.

OSHA’s efforts in enforcing health and safety standards in the workplace have significantly reduced the number of job-related injuries and death since its creation in 1971; however, it was not enough to totally eliminate accidents in the workplace. Thus, the U.S. Department of Labor continuously received reports of injuries and, sometimes, deaths due to accidents. Based on results from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal work-related accidents totaled to 4,585 in 2013; in 2014 the number of deaths went up 2%, registering 4,679.

Fatal accidents in construction sites include workers being struck and killed by a forklift or other heavy machinery, being struck by falling objects, electrocution, and falls, which frequently occur while workers are on ladders or scaffoldings. To promote worker safety and maintain a healthy work environment, the Federal OSHA enforced two safety standards:

  • Provide workers with personal equipment (such as helmet or hard-hat, eye protection, special goggles for welders, gauntlets for iron workers, hearing protection, and hard-toed shoes) that are designed to offer protection against certain hazards; and,
  • Make sure that workers, especially those tasked to operate and use heavy equipment or machinery, are effectively trained.

In the event of an accident resulting to injury or death, a January 1, 2015, OSHA Standard mandates (OSHA covered) employers to report the incident to OSHA within eight hours of learning of the event.

According to Dallas personal injury lawyers at The Benton Law Firm, work-related accidents resulting to injuries or death entitle workers or their families (in case of worker’s death) to file a claim with their state’s Worker’s Compensation Insurance office. Financial benefits, however, are often too small or delayed, that is if the application for claim is not rejected. Besides these, the Worker’s Comp also restricts injured workers from further pursuing legal action against their employer.

Under certain circumstances, however, this Worker’s Comp’s provision may be ruled against by a court, especially in cases where the injury is too severe or fatal. With assistance from a highly-skilled personal injury lawyer an injured worker or his/her family may be able to pursue the best legal option available that will enable him/her seek compensation from the his/her employer.

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