Employers must comply with federal standards to ensure safe, healthful working conditions
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for oversight of work environments to ensure worker safety and health protection. Knowing your employers’ responsibilities under OSHA regulations is important to being a part of a safe work culture and being an advocate for the workers around you.
When you’ve suffered a severe injury at work, you are likely concerned about how you will manage your recovery and provide for your family. If your employer’s actions played a role in your work accident, understanding the safety standards required of your employer may be important in determining how to handle your compensation and injury recovery.
OSHA established to provide worker protections, ensure safe workplaces
OSHA was established by the Occupational Health & Safety Act of 1970 with a mission “to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions.”
Employers’ responsibilities under OSHA intended to provide for a safe workplace
Far too many preventable injuries and illnesses occur in the workplace. No matter the work environment, every employer is responsible for maintaining compliance with OSHA standards to assert your safety at work.
Recordkeeping is an important part of an employer’s responsibilities in most industries (excluding retail, finance, insurance, service and real estate). Keeping records allows OSHA to collect survey material to help identify high-hazard industries, and informs you, the worker, about the injuries and illnesses in your workplace.
Federal OSHA standards include:
- Maintaining a work environment free from serious recognized hazards
- Examining workplace conditions through safety checks to ensure they are meeting OSHA safety compliance
- Providing employees safe, appropriate and properly maintained equipment and tools to perform their jobs safely
- Establishing and communicating safe workplace practices through safety training in language and vocabulary workers understand
- Informing employees of their rights and responsibilities by displaying “OSHA Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law” posters where employees will see them
- Providing and conveying a written Hazard Communication Plan for workers in environments with additional risks such as energy, chemical plants, healthcare and industries that produce hazardous wastes, have exposure to pathogens or infectious disease or contribute to work-related health conditions
- Protecting whistleblowers who assert their right to file a complaint with OSHA about on-the-job safety hazards and violations
Most common violations of OSHA standards by employers
Each year, OSHA provides a list of the 10 most commonly cited OSHA standards following inspections of worksites by federal OSHA inspectors. Scaffolding and ladder safety to prevent falls on construction sites, machinery and machine guarding in manufacturing and hazard communication in general industry are among the most cited workplace safety failures.
OSHA performs an inspection or investigation whenever it suspects an employer of violating its health and safety standards. Employers who fail to comply with OSHA standards to protect workers can be fined for each infraction. All employer offenses against OSHA standards are recorded, and the general public can access the records through the agency’s online database or by sending a written request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Can your employer be sued for a workplace injury?
In most instances, workers’ compensation prohibits you from being able to sue your employer. Likewise, contractors who are hired to undertake work on behalf of your employer are considered “statutory employees” in most states under the law and therefore cannot be sued as a third party.
However, there are some exceptions when a civil lawsuit can be filed against your employer, including gross negligence such as repeated or willful violations resulting in physical harm or injury. Find out more about your rights when you are injured at work.
Trammell Piazza – Experienced trial lawyers who are in your corner
Trammell Piazza Law Firm’s experienced trial lawyers fight for victims of catastrophic worker injuries, construction accidents and injuries due to defective or faulty equipment.
We are your advocates in the courtroom and work tirelessly to win fair judgments that drive employers to provide safer work conditions and better protection for employees. The Trammell Piazza team helps victims of catastrophic injuries focus on their family and their recovery while working their case through the legal system to achieve maximum compensation for your injuries.