Odds are if you have recently started a job or have been working for years, you were required to have training as it relates to OSHA and the protocols in place for your workplace. OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is the governing agency that was established after the passing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970. It is a federally regulated agency that has established guidelines and standards that were put in place to ensure safety and health of workers from exposure to dangerous chemicals and various other workplace hazards. Most employers have an OSHA compliance officer that keeps the records current and up to date while also making sure that the protocols in place to protect workers are being followed and regularly inspected to ensure that standards are met. So, what does all this mean in relation to personal injury and workers’ compensation?
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION VS. PERSONAL INJURY
Workers compensation is defined as a system of compensation which allows employees who are injured at work to obtain payment for lost wages, medical costs and occupational rehabilitation expenses without regard to their personal negligence or fault.
Personal injury is defined as a person’s body, mind, or emotions are injured as a result of the negligence, carelessness, or wrongful conduct of another person.
Two very different names for a classification of injury that can be applied to the same event. Generally, workers’ compensation falls under the umbrella of injuries that occur while in the line of duty and the employee may be asked to submit blood or urine samples to ensure that there the employee was not under the influence that would impair judgement releasing the employer of responsibility for the injury. When thinking of personal injury in regard to the workplace, this can occur when someone is injured by someone else while that person is in the course of his job. With regards to OSHA, both types of law can be applied if it is discovered that your employer was not following protocol and established guidelines to ensure your personal health and safety.
WHEN TO REPORT INJURY TO OSHA
When you are injured in the workplace or have an exposure to a dangerous substance that requires you to have treatment beyond basic first aid, the injury and circumstances surrounding the injury need to be reported to your OSHA compliance officer at work, as well as documented by your doctor that there was a breakdown of protocol and your injury was a direct result of that protocol not being followed.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR CASE WHEN OSHA REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED
Personal injury lawsuits and workers’ compensation lawsuits can sometimes be a long drawn out process and even tedious at times. If you feel that your injury occurred as a direct result of OSHA regulations not being followed, it is IMPERATIVE that you document everything. You need to REPORT THE INCIDENT IMMEDIATELY and keep notes regarding the actions you take immediately after the injury occurs. Depending on what happened, it will likely be necessary that you have a very detailed account of the incident. I say this because when you decide on a lawyer, the first thing your lawyer will want to know is: 1. What exactly happened? 2. Do you have photos (if possible) where the incident occurred? (this is because if safety standards or exposure protocols were not followed, a picture may be your only proof) 3. Did you report the incident immediately to your employer’s OSHA compliance officer? 4. Were you placed on light duty, lose time at work, wages, or have to transfer all together? 5. Do you have your doctor’s report to support your claim?
The one thing you need to remember is that OSHA cannot take part in assessing benefits or compensation for an injury or exposure that occurred. What can take place is OSHA can open an investigation and the results of their assessment and subsequent investigation can help your case. It is very important that you make sure to document what your employer tells you and keeps you informed of the status of the investigation.
If you have questions about a workplace injury feel free to contact us.