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Employer’s Workplace Safety Responsibility

Posted on Saturday, June 1st, 2024 at 9:00 am    

Employer’s Workplace Safety Responsibility Image

In the U.S., employers are meant to provide a safe environment for those who work on their properties or at their job sites. Although maintaining an environment where workers can perform their duties safely is the goal, not all employers meet their obligations. Sometimes, workers are injured as a result of unsafe working conditions.

Legal Requirements for Workplace Safety

The United States Department of Labor is in charge of the welfare of workers, job seekers, and retirees in the U.S. Their mission is to make sure workers can take advantage of their work-related benefits and rights and to improve working conditions.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is the agency that administers the requirements promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970. The safety and health conditions required by OSH include most private industries and public sector employers. Employers are obligated to provide workers with workplaces devoid of serious, recognized hazards. OSHA’s enforcement of OHS is accomplished through workplace inspections and investigations.

Protecting Workers’ Rights to a Safe Environment

OSHA regulations spell out specific employer responsibilities. Employers must do the following:

  • Establish operating procedures regarding health and safety and communicate them to the workforce.
  • Display the OSHA poster prominently. The poster outlines the workers’ rights and responsibilities
  • Make sure employees have safe tools and equipment. Employers must keep equipment properly maintained. The employer cannot charge the employee for tools and safety equipment.
  • Provide training in a language and vocabulary all workers understand. Employers can use posters, color codes, and labels to warn workers of potential hazards.
  • In a workplace with hazardous chemicals, the employer must develop and implement a written hazard communication protocol, educate workers on the chances for hazard exposure, and train them about the precautions to take to avoid exposure.
  • Provide medical exams if required by OSHA standards.

Additionally, employers must keep records of any work-related illness or injury and provide those records to employees, former employees, or their lawyers. Employers are also required to post a three-month log of any injuries.

If there is a workplace fatality, or an employee loses an eye, or requires an amputation or hospitalization, the employer has 24 hours to notify OSHA. The employer must also ensure that you have access to the legal resources you need to report any safety issues. Employers may not retaliate against whistle-blowing employers.

Safety policies are set based on individual industries and the requirements of each. OSHA’s policies  for warehousing and storage are different than their policies that cover the chemicals used in a nail salon. The policies that cover personal protective equipment for each of those industries are significantly different.

Overall, the common thread is that any workplace must implement procedures to lower risk, remove hazards, and ensure that employees are healthy and safe.

Safety Policies in Kentucky

In Kentucky, the Kentucky Safety and Health (OSH) Program operates according to Kentucky law and through a plan approved by OSHA. This program has jurisdiction to enforce OSH rules and provide on-site consultations and training services related to workplace health and safety.

Enforcement activities include routine workplace inspections to guarantee that a company’s safety procedures are in place. Inspectors are free to discuss workplace conditions with employees.

If the inspector finds a violation, fines up to $7,000 per violation may be cited. If the violation is not corrected within a specific period, additional penalties of up to $7,000 daily accrue. Repeat offenders may be fined $70,000 per violation and at least $50,000 for any willful violation.

Ohio Safety Policies

Ohio doesn’t have additional safety policies; they use the OSHA guidelines. Federal inspectors routinely look over workplaces and can cite civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance. If there is a workplace death, OSHA can bring criminal charges against the employer, with a possible fine and imprisonment.  

Consequences of Employer Negligence in Safety

If an employer does not follow health and safety guidelines, the employer is in violation of OSHA standards. If a worker is injured because of the employer’s failure to follow those guidelines, this failure may not establish a case of negligence on its own but may be used as a factor in determining whether the employer was negligent.

If a person is injured on a job site, if that person is an employee and they are covered by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, the injured person’s recourse is to file a claim with the insurer. Workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy, which means that if the worker accepts workers’ compensation benefits, they are precluded from suing the employer for the work accident.

There are exceptions to this ban against filing a lawsuit against the employer. In particular, if the employer failed to carry required workers’ compensation insurance, intentionally injured an employee, or violated employment laws, the injured worker could sue the employer for the harm and loss they suffered due to the workplace injury.

Additionally, if the injured person was not an employee but was a contract worker or another person who was harmed at the employer’s jobsite as a direct result of the employer failing to follow OSH or other required health and safety guidelines, the injured person could file a lawsuit against the employer for their injuries and losses.

Compensation Available after a Workplace Injury

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If an injured worker files a workers’ compensation claim, they are entitled to the workers’ compensation benefits. In Ohio, those benefits are administered by the Ohio Industrial Commission. In Kentucky, they’re administered by the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims. Benefits in both states include:

  • Medical expenses for reasonable and necessary treatment for the injury
  • Partial wage replacement for time the worker must be off work due to the injury

If an injured worker files a third-party claim against the employer, they are entitled to:

  • Medical expenses, both present and future
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future income if the injury alters their earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering

Get the Legal Help You Need Now

If you’ve been injured on the job, whether it was because the employer failed to comply with OSH or state policy requirements or because of an accident or work-related illness, you need a skilled attorney working on your case. The work injury lawyers of Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC are staunch representatives of working people and will fight for your rights. Call us today at (513) 351-5997 or contact us online for a free consultation, and we will begin pursuing the compensation you deserve.

 

Last Updated : July 17, 2024
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