OSHA and Workers’ Compensation Cases

In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a division of the United States Department of Labor (DOL), is a federal agency responsible for assuring safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women in the United States. OSHA was established by the U.S. Congress through the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970. OSHA sets out to accomplish its task by enforcing workplace regulation, compiling statistical data, and training employers on how to maintain a safe work environment.

While it is not necessary for an injured employee to prove that his or her employer was negligent in order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, as OSHA understands, and our Boston on-the-job accident attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers can explain, many work-related injuries and illnesses are preventable.

One of the more common workplace injuries seen by OSHA is due to improperly guarded machines. Moving machinery by its very nature contains moving parts. These parts can result in serious personal injury or death if a worker gets his or her fingers, hands, clothing, or other body party trapped in the mechanism. This year alone, OSHA has fined numerous businesses that have failed to properly guard machines, resulting in injuries ranging from pinched fingers to more serious workplace injuries, including amputation and even a decapitation at a major bread manufacturing company.

OSHA is also required to perform investigations after certain industrial accidents and all workplace deaths. If OSHA determines serious safety violations occurred, the agency may fine the organization. OSHA will also look at past conduct on behalf of the employer when performing an accident or death investigation. This information can be extremely helpful to the legal team that is working your case. 

Even though many at-work injuries and illnesses are preventable, work injuries happen all the time. In fact, every seven seconds, a worker suffers an on-the-job injury, according to data from the National Safety Council.

If you’ve suffered a work-related injury or illness, it’s important that you consult with a lawyer to ensure that you receive proper compensation for your injuries.

Workers’ compensation claims can be complicated. Your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer could argue that your injuries weren’t caused by a work accident or aren’t as serious as you say, and your claim for benefits could be denied.

The attorneys at the Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers in Boston have successfully handled the most complicated and contested work injury and workers’ compensation cases, including wrongful death cases. Our law firm understand how a work injury can put you out of commission and derail your life.

We provide all clients with free and confidential consultations, which means you have nothing to lose by calling our office today and scheduling an appointment to discuss your work injury case.

Can I Sue My Employer for My Work Injury?

Under Massachusetts law, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you’ve been injured during the course of your employment. Workers’ compensation benefits include compensation for things like medical services, prescription drugs and weekly compensation for lost income for the time that you’re unable to work.

To collect workers’ compensation benefits, it doesn’t matter if you or your employer are to blame for your work injury.

However, if your work accident and resulting injury was caused by your employer’s “serious and willful misconduct” and general disregard for your safety and the safety of your co-workers, you might be entitled to additional benefits.

A skilled and experienced workers’ compensation attorney will look at the facts of your case, discuss all available options and suggest a plan of action. When it comes to pursuing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, one of the things your attorney will do is find out if there is an OSHA report from your work accident. What is OSHA? When the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 became law, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, to ensure safe and healthy working conditions in workplaces across the country. The agency sets and enforces safety standards and provides training, outreach, education and assistance to keep workplaces safe. OSHA is part of the U.S. Department of Labor.

How We Can Help You Recover Additional Benefits

If your work injury is the result of an OSHA violation, including an OSHA violation that your employer knew about but failed to remedy, or if OSHA has investigated your employer and fined your employer for serious violations in the past, that information could be used to seek double the amount of your workers’ compensation benefits.

Remember that double-recovery cases are an exception—not the rule. Your work injury attorney will be able to tell you if you might be able to collect additional benefits.

To help you prove your case, your attorney will be able to:

  • Document evidence of the dangerous condition through photos, videos and other evidence
  • Take sworn depositions of co-workers who were also exposed to the dangerous working condition and take sworn depositions of your employer, supervisor and members of the management team
  • Take the sworn deposition of the OSHA investigator and subpoena records from your employer and from OSHA showing that your employer has a history of workplace violations

An attorney can also tell you if you might be able to sue a contractor or other third party for your work injury. You will need to prove that the third-party worker engaged in negligent or reckless behavior and that this behavior caused your work injury.

What Should I Do If I’m Injured on the Job?

If you’re injured at work, OSHA advises that you call a supervisor for help. If the supervisor isn’t available, the agency says you should get medical help or call 911.

All employers are obligated to notify OSHA within 8 hours of a workplace fatality or within 24 hours of a work-related inpatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.

After obtaining medical attention, collect contact information for co-workers who witnessed your accident or any other witnesses at the scene. Use your cellphone to take pictures of your injuries and any unsafe conditions. If possible, do this as soon as possible and before the dangerous condition is removed or corrected.

Speak with the workers’ compensation attorneys at the Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers to protect your rights under the law and make sure you receive the compensation you are owed. If your injuries are serious and you’re partially or totally disabled as a result, it’s important that you consult with an attorney before proceeding with your claim on your own.

All Workers Are Entitled to a Safe Work Environment

Under federal law, you’re entitled to a safe work environment. That means that your employer has a duty to provide a workplace free of known health and safety hazards. If you’re concerned about the safety of your workplace, you have the right to speak up without fear of retaliation.

OSHA says you also have the right to:

  • Attend training in a language you understand
  • Work on machines that are safe
  • Be provided with required safety gear
  • Be protected from toxic chemicals
  • Request an OSHA inspection and speak to the inspector
  • Report an injury or illness and obtain copies of your medical records
  • See copies of the workplace injury and illness log
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
  • Get copies of test results performed to identify hazards in the workplace

(Source: OSHA website)

Many OSHA standards mandate that employers provide their workers with personal protective equipment when that equipment is needed to protect them from job injuries and illnesses. In most situations, OSHA requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment when it is needed to comply with the agency’s standards. This type of protective equipment generally includes hard hats, gloves, goggles, safety glasses, welding helmets, face shields, chemical protective equipment and fall protection equipment.

When Should I File a Complaint with OSHA?

If you believe that your working conditions are unsafe or dangerous to your health, you have the right to file a confidential safety and health complaint with OSHA and request an inspection. If possible, OSHA suggests that workers bring the unsafe conditions to the attention of their employers. You can file a complaint on the agency’s website at osha.gov.

It’s illegal for an employer to fire, demote, transfer or otherwise retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint or exercising their rights under the law. If you have reason to believe that you’ve been retaliated against, OSHA says you should file a whistleblower complaint within 30 days of the alleged retaliatory conduct. You can use the whistleblower complaint form on the agency’s website.

Even though OSHA doesn’t have specific standards pertaining to workplace violence, OSHA reiterates that workers have the right to a safe workplace. Employers have a duty to provide a workplace that does not have known health and safety hazards and that applies to workplace violence. If you’re concerned about violence at your place of work, you have the right to voice your concerns without fear of retaliation. OSHA advises that you contact your local OSHA office or file a complaint. All information will be kept confidential.

OSHA says in most cases where workplace violence risk factors can be identified, the risk of assault can be prevented or minimized if employers take precautions like establishing a zero-tolerance policy towards violence in the workplace. The zero-tolerance policy should pertain to all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors and other individuals who might come in contact with company personnel.

OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Violations for 2018

The top 10 most frequently cited violations following inspections of worksites by OSHA are:

  • Fall protection in construction
  • Standard hazard communication across all industries
  • General scaffolding requirements in construction
  • Respiratory protection across all industries
  • Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off during maintenance or repair
  • Ladders in construction
  • Powered industrial trucks
  • Training requirements of fall protection
  • Machinery and machine guarding
  • Eye and face protection

Some examples of workplace violations for which OSHA has cited employers in Massachusetts include:

  • A pair of roofing contractors that exposed workers to fall hazards
  • A store that exposed workers to fire and other hazards
  • A behavioral health facility that exposed psychiatric hospital workers to hazards, including workplace violence
  • A company involved in a fatal trench collapse that failed to provide safety training to employees

To learn more about how our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you with your work injury claim, contact Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers today at (617) 777-7777 or using our online form.

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