Accidents can happen at any type of workplace. No employer can make a workplace entirely safe. However, employers do have a legal duty to follow safety regulations and make their workplaces reasonably safe. When they breach their duties, they may face fines under state and federal law.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration recently imposed a fine in excess of $1.3 million on a company based in Ohio. According to news reports, OSHA conducted an inspection at the metal heat treatment company in October 2018 and the latest action is based on the findings of that inspection. Per OSHA’s statement, the company was cited for 25 willful workplace safety violations related to confined spaces, falls, machine guarding, respiratory protection, chemical exposures and electrical equipment.
In addition, OSHA stated that the company did not provide its workers with adequate personal safety equipment and also failed in conducting adequate trainings for its workers to avoid workplace hazards. The statement mentioned that as a result of these failures on part of the company, the workers were exposed to serious and potentially life-threatening workplace injuries and illnesses. OSHA, in its statement, also reiterated the fact that employers have the legal responsibility to assess all workplace hazards and ensure that appropriate health and safety measures are in place to protect its workers.
The gravity of the hazards can be understood better by the fact that OSHA included the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program based on the findings of its inspection. Per the existing rules, the company has 15 days to comply with the order, request a meeting with OSHA’s area director or challenge OSHA’s findings and the subsequent fine before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
It’s important to note that Ohio’s workers’ compensation system does not require workers to show that their employer was negligent or that anyone was at fault. The benefits not only help injured workers to meet the expenses for medical treatment and wage loss but also to meet the financial challenges that the disabled worker and the worker’s family goes through after the injury or illness. However, it can be important for injured workers to have help from an attorney.