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Favoring Productivity and Cost Over Safety Leads to Workplace Injuries

Jul 25, 2016 - Tuscaloosa, Workers' Compensation/Work Injury by

In January 2016, a news release from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced its proposal to penalize an Alabama manufacturing company nearly $200,000 for repeated safety violations. This situation illustrated how the government holds companies accountable for safe premises even if they do not face liability issues for worker injuries under the workers’ compensation system.

Workers’ Compensation Should Never Protect Employers from Safety Violations

Perhaps the most important feature that helps Alabama workers’ compensation to protect employees is the stipulation that injury victims have a clear path to compensation by giving up their right to sue their employers. In other words, regardless of whether worker or employer carelessness contributes to an accident, the system steps in to help ensure that workers obtain appropriate medical attention, without incurring out-of-pocket expenses — and without fear of litigation.

Sometimes, injured workers can feel a sense of frustration when they cannot seek greater compensation in cases where their employers’ clear and repeated consistent negligence makes their jobs unsafe. The good news is that a lack of liability in a workers’ compensation claim does not mean that employers cannot be held accountable.

OSHA can be relentless in monitoring for responses to violations that they uncover during inspections. Just as important, if they are not aware of violations, OSHA makes it easy for workers to file a safety and health complaint.

Productivity Losses and Expenses are No Excuse for Unsafe Working Conditions

Any company is responsible for keeping up with the costs of doing business, even if the expenses are unexpected. In fact, when an OSHA director stated that the Alabama business had taken a productivity-over-safety mentality and claimed that the cited workplace hazards were too expensive to fix, he insisted on immediate changes. Some of the serious violations included the following:

  • Wet floors
  • Electrical and pneumatic exposure, caught-in accidents and amputation hazards due to a lack of equipment shut-down procedures
  • Failure to conduct regular equipment inspections and maintenance or provide employee training on safe equipment use to prevent injuries
  • Failure to provide wash stations in areas where workers were exposed to corrosive chemicals
  • Failure to provide appropriate safeguards to protect workers from known equipment hazards

In addition to serious violations like these, the OSHA report cited many willful violations, along with issues that they failed to address from prior inspections.

Of course, OSHA safety reports provide companies with the ability to appeal charges and specify how each item has been addressed. However, OSHA officials typically do not let go of any issue until they can officially close it. These details can make a difference to on-the-job injury claims and an experienced Tuscaloosa workplace injury lawyer can closely track OSHA activities to stay current on issues that can affect the abilities of workers to pursue fair compensation.

Additional Resources

OSHA cites Valley auto parts maker for hazardous conditions, Opelika-Auburn News, January 29, 2016

Other Blog topics

Alabama Work Accidents, Workers’ Compensation & Third-Party Liability, Tuscaloosa Workers’ Compensation/Work Injury Blog

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