Workplace safety law is written to protect workers from harm. Workplace safety rules apply to almost every private sector employer in the country and implement standards to prevent accidents in the workplace. Government agents are given authority to ensure that various workplaces are in compliance with all relevant safety regulations and codes. Businesses that violate these codes may face fines or even criminal penalties such as imprisonment.
Whistle blowers are employees who report noncompliance with government safety regulations. A personal injury attorney specializing in workplace safety law and premises liability can often help protect whistle blowers from retaliation by the employers they report. Businesses also hire attorneys to draft regulations that are up-to-date with governmental regulations.
Occupational Health and Safety Rules
The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed by Congress in 1970 to ensure that businesses comply with federal safety regulations. Legislation in this area creates certain rights for workers and obligations for employers. Workers’ rights involve being told about known hazards in the workplace and training to avoid them. Workers have the right to information about the health and safety laws that govern the businesses they work for and must also be given a way to file a complaint if any safety laws are broken. Employers are not permitted to retaliate in any way against an employee who reports a safety violation, but it is an unfortunately common occurrence nonetheless.
Employers are required by OSHA to actively look for potential threats to employees. It is not enough to simply implement existing safety regulations and address problems as they arise. Once a hazard is discovered, the employer has a duty to remove it to prevent harm to employees. Workplace hazards that are impossible to eliminate must be handled in a manner that educates employees about the potential risks and provides them with reasonable measures to avoid harm.
OSHA regulations are commonly implemented in dangerous industries, such as construction and mining. In these industries, OSHA regularly issues inspections and citations for businesses that do not comply with regulations.
Workplace Safety Claims
Workplace safety attorneys frequently consult with clients to ensure compliance and proactively address potential legal problems. Frequent audits are often needed in workplaces where dangerous machinery is used. New practices may need to be adopted for environments in which dangerous materials are present. With advice from an attorney, compliance audits may help businesses learn more about the needs of their employees and make appropriate adjustments to workplace conditions and training. Record keeping is an essential part of the workplace safety assurance process.
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you may be eligible to file for workers’ compensation or a personal injury lawsuit. Once a claim is made, your employer will likely seek legal assistance if the company does not have counsel already. If an OSHA citation has been issued, the company may face extensive fines and sanctions. In some cases, a large amount of publicity occurs when a personal injury case is involved alongside a workplace regulation violation.
Not all workplace injury cases are adversarial. Many cases are settled agreeably between an injured worker and an employer, but it is still in your best interest to have legal representation. It is common for an employer’s insurer to make insultingly low settlement offers in an attempt to avoid reaching a settlement at all. If your case goes to trial, a lawyer can help you document your injuries and show that negligence on behalf of your employer was at least somewhat responsible for your accident. The most important benefit of working with an attorney is that he or she can represent your claim to insurance adjusters, employers and opposing counsel.
Not only can representing yourself be intimidating, but it makes it easier to invalidate your claim by saying the wrong thing to the wrong person as well. Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your claim is acknowledged and managed properly. From medical expenses to lost future wages, you should seek the highest reasonable settlement to ensure that your needs are met both now and in the future. Acting quickly is also important, since statutes of limitations often limit the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit.
Special thanks to our friend Aaron Crane, of Cantor Crane, Law Offices of David Michael Cantor, Cantor Law Group, for providing some insight into workers compensation practice in Phoenix, Arizona.