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Paying OSHA citations affects workers’ compensation claims

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) may issue citations for violations of OSHA regulations in connection with workers’ compensation accidents. Ohio employers should be aware that if they accept and pay these citations, it can lead to increased Workers’ compensation payouts.

Accepting an OSHA citation can not only result in increased payouts – sometimes thousands of dollars not covered by Workers’ compensation insurance – but also can lead to increased penalties for future repeat citations and increased bond premiums. Employers may also lose business opportunities and citations may be used against them in civil proceedings.

States vary regarding the allowable increases, with some allowing for up to a 100 percent increase in workers’ compensation payouts. Ohio permits a 15 to 50 percent increase in Workers’ compensation payouts if an OSHA citation is accepted by an employer.

Typically, increases are allowed when it is proven that the employer’s violation led to the workplace accident or injury. Despite language in some state’s statutes requiring the employer’s actions to have been willful, courts still allow for increases for acts that would otherwise be considered negligent, such as stretching an extension cord across a hallway. Courts have defined such an action as willful because the employer deliberately failed to uphold its duty to maintain employees’ safety.

Therefore, even if the OSHA citation is not classified as serious or willful, employers may still have to pay increased Workers’ compensation benefits. Especially in light of the wide-sweeping consequences of accepting an OSHA citation, employers should take care to not violate OSHA regulations but rather execute them to the fullest in order to avoid harsh financial consequences and to ensure workplace safety.

Source: BizJournals.com, The substantial impact of accepting OSHA citations on workers’ compensation claims, Travis Vance, November 16, 2017

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