The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a wide variety of safety regulations that it enforces. OSHA inspects workplaces on a regular basis, although understaffing has resulted in inspections not being frequent enough. OSHA also launches investigations when a serious injury or workplace death occurs or when a complaint is made about a company failing to live up to safety standards.
While OSHA enforces regulations on almost every workplace issue, from scaffolding to toxic exposure, there are three specific areas that OSHA is currently focused on enforcing. The head of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs laid out these areas in a presentation to the American Bar Association’s Occupational Safety & Health Law Meeting.
OSHA violations can result in a company facing fines. A worker, on the other hand, may not be able to sue an employer even in cases where a serious injury has occurred because of a failure to follow OSHA standards. Workers’ compensation laws provide an exclusive remedy to workers, preventing lawsuits in most cases. An experienced workplace injury lawyer can help you to determine if a lawsuit is possible based on your work injuries or whether you should make a work-injury claim to obtains workers’ compensation benefits.
Areas of OSHA’s Focus
According to Safety News Alert, three of the areas that OSHA will be focused on enforcement this year included:
- Heat Stress: OSHA conducted a total of 266 inspections involving employee heat stress in 2013. OSHA had received 180 non-formal complaints made by employees to OSHA involving heat stress, and also investigated 34 workplaces after heat-related deaths. OSHA does not actually have specific regulations associated with heat stress but issued violations using the General Duty Clause applicable to employers.
- Workplace violence: Retail businesses that are open at night, social service agencies and healthcare facilities should all consider having workplace violence plans in order to protect employees from acts of aggression. OSHA issued three citations for workplace violence and another 29 inspections are working through the system. The citations that were issued were all issued under the General Duty Clause (GDC).
- Ergonomics: OSHA indicates that it expects to conduct 240 ergonomic inspections this year. The majority of the inspections will occur at healthcare facilities including nursing homes. Workplace ergonomics standards were officially repealed in 2001, so OSHA uses the GDC for these citations as well.
The fact that these three specific enforcement areas all involve enforcement using the general duty clause indicates that OSHA may be planning to get more serious about finding ways to ensure employers are living up to their basic obligation to create a safe workplace. Rather than just focusing on whether employers have followed the letter of the law in order to do the minimum required, OSHA wants to see them doing more to prevent all types of hazards.
Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim– 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries:
U.S. Lags in Safety Precautions for Temp Workers, March 7, 2014.