The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency that sets and enforces safety standards in the workplace, including construction sites. Since it was created under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA has significantly decreased work-related illnesses, injuries, and deaths. When a worker is seriously injured or killed in a workplace accident, OSHA must be notified and may conduct an investigation. This could impact your construction injury claim.
What Are OSHA’s Standards for Construction Sites?
Construction is a high hazard industry that involves a wide range of activities, as stated by OSHA. Workers on construction sites are exposed to serious hazards, such as:
- Falling from rooftops or scaffolding
- Unguarded machinery
- Being struck by heavy equipment
- Silica dust
- Asbestos exposure
To promote safety on construction sites and help protect workers, OSHA has issued a long, comprehensive list of standards regulating the construction industry. These standards address hazards commonly associated with construction, covering everything from general health and safety to mechanized equipment to scaffolding and fall protection – essentially every hazard construction workers may be exposed to on a worksite.
How Does OSHA Enforce Its Standards?
Employers have a duty to ensure the workplace is safe for workers and others. OSHA requires employers to remove hazards by finding safer alternatives, to keep records of all work-related illnesses and injuries, to notify OSHA within 24 hours if a worker suffers an injury that requires hospitalization, and to notify OSHA within eight hours if someone is killed in a workplace accident.
When a worker dies or is seriously injured, OSHA conducts a worksite inspection to find out what occurred and whether any safety standards were violated. If the investigation reveals that safety standards were violated, OSHA will issue citations and assess fines from the noncompliant employer.
Which OSHA Safety Standards Are Most Frequently Violated?
A list of the top 10 most frequently cited standards following inspections of worksites is provided by OSHA. Many of these violations occur in the construction industry.
- Fall protection (construction)
- Respiratory protection (general industry)
- Ladders (construction)
- Hazard communication (general industry)
- Scaffolding (construction)
- Fall protection training (construction)
- Hazardous energy control (general industry)
- Eye and face protection (construction)
- Powered industrial trucks (general industry)
- Machinery and machine guarding (general industry)
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How Can OSHA Investigations Affect Construction Injury Claims?
Workers injured on construction sites are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Standard workers’ comp coverage includes medical expenses and partial or total disability. In some cases, workers may be entitled to additional benefits if an employer has a history of safety violations.
If a party other than your employer was responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you may have a third-party claim against the at-fault party. A personal injury claim is a way to seek compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, that are not covered by workers’ comp.
When an OSHA worksite investigation reveals violations of safety standards, citations issued as a result can serve as evidence in a construction injury claim. Records of past investigations can show whether an employer knew of existing hazards or had recurring violations. An OSHA investigation can also provide the personal injury attorney handling your claim with insight into applicable standards, possible violations, witnesses, and key supervisors or personnel that may be useful in a civil claim for compensation.
If you have been seriously injured in a construction site accident, contact DiBella Law Offices, P.C. at (978) 327-5140. We are a nationally recognized firm of top personal injury litigators in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. After a free consultation with no obligation, we can explain your options under the law.