Repeated Workplace Safety Failures May 11, 2018
Even though employers are legally responsible for protecting their employees from recognizable workplace hazards, all too often they fail to maintain adequate health and safety programs, leading to thousands of worker injuries and deaths each year.
Just months ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined a Cincinnati-based roofing company for repeated violating safety codes and putting employees at risk for catastrophic workplace injuries and fatalities. Just a few examples of the failures that OSHA inspectors observed include multiple employees working at heights of 13 feet or above without appropriate fall protection, as well as the lack of a comprehensive safety and hazard-training programs.
Because so many workers are killed or injured in preventable workplace accidents each year, it is critical that employers maintain compliant and effective safety and health programs. Although some industries carry more job risks than others (such as construction and the general industry), all workplaces can be dangerous when employers fail to protect employees.
What is considered a workplace hazard?
According to data from OSHA, some of the most common – and preventable – workplace hazards are:
- Safety hazards such as workplace clutter, fall dangers, unguarded or defective machinery, tools and electrical dangers (like frayed wiring);
- Biological hazards, like exposure to mold and viruses;
- Chemical hazards, including exposure to carbon monoxide, acids and pesticides;
- Ergonomic hazards, like conditions and injuries caused from repetitive work tasks and consistent physical strains on the body, and:
- Extreme temperatures, sun and noise exposure are all considered physical hazards under current OSHA guidelines
Too many workplaces across the country refuse to prioritize worker safety. There are numerous instances just like the Cincinnati roofing company, where employers repeatedly allow for safety violations to occur instead of implementing effective remedies. While some employers may believe cutting corners can help them save money, the truth is that avoidable injuries and fatalities end up costing much more in the long run.
Workplace fatality and injury statistics
On average, 14 workers in the U.S. are killed on the job every day. In 2016, 5,190 individuals died as a result of workplace injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) documented nearly 3 million nonfatal injuries in that same calendar year. Although the exact numbers are not yet fully known, numerous agencies estimate that thousands of workers could be saved from preventable injuries if employers remained compliant with federal safety standards and implemented effective – as well as up to date – safety and health programs.
How to file a complaint with OSHA
If employers fail to remedy recognizable workplace hazards, employees should file a complaint directly with OSHA. Not only is it illegal for a boss to take retaliatory action against an employee for doing this, but also the complaint process is anonymous. When it comes to filing a complaint, there are a few other important things to know:
- Complaints need to be filed as soon as possible – usually, OSHA can only issue citations for violations that happened within the last 6 months, and:
- Complaints can be filed via telephone, online (https://www.osha.gov/pls/osha7/eComplaintForm.html) and via fax/mail
You can learn more about how to file a workplace safety violation complaint with OSHA by visiting: https://www.osha.gov/workers/file_complaint.html.
Allentown Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured at Work
If you were injured due to safety failures in your workplace, please contact our Allentown Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.