Workers' Rights and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Providing a healthy, safe working environment for employees should be a matter of common sense. However, employers do not always do what they should to keep their workplaces safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the U.S. government agency in charge of overseeing employers and citing them for safety violations that put workers in danger. OSHA also investigates all work-related deaths and catastrophes in the workplace. Employers are required to report fatalities and catastrophes to OSHA. Catastrophes are defined as events that result in the hospitalization of three or more employees.
At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP our NY workplace accident attorneys will do whatever is possible to see that you are compensated for your injuries suffered while on the job. We take pride in representing those who have been injured in workplace accidents. We intentionally limit the number of cases we handle so that every client receives the personal attention we are known for providing. If you have been injured in a workplace accident, please call (212) 986-7353 for a free consultation.
Common Types of OSHA Violations
In a recent year, OSHA identified the ten most commonly reported OSHA violations in work places, including:
- Fall Protection, Construction
- Hazard Communication, General
- Scaffolding, General
- Respiratory Protection, General
- Control of Hazardous Energy, General
- Ladders, Construction
- Powered Industrial Trucks, General
- Fall Protection, Training
- Machine Guarding, General
- Eye and Face Protection
It is no shock that the most common OSHA violations fall under general industry – meaning that the violations are a commonplace occurrence in most workplaces – but also only reinforces the importance of minimizing the safety risks at a job. Employers and supervisors should be constantly be updating their policies and procedures based on the resources and regulations provided by OSHA to maximize the safety of their employees.
New York Worker Protection Mandated by OSHA Regulations
If you have been injured on the job, the first thing you should know is that you are not alone. Nine U.S. workers lost their lives in workplace accidents during a one-month period from December 5th, 2012 through January 3rd, 2013. Three fatalities were in the New York/New Jersey area. OSHA regulations were put in place to lessen the risks of workplace injuries that include the following:
- Electrocution - workers must be protected when they are near energized wires or power circuits.
- Struck-by injuries - workers must wear personal protective equipment including helmets and steel-toed boots while on the job.
- Caught-in-between injuries - workers must receive proper training in order to work around heavy equipment. Equipment maintenance must be done on a regular basis.
- Injuries as the result of falls - OSHA requires a safety rail, safety net, or fall arrest system when there is a potential fall of six feet or more.
Employer Responsibilities for Creating a Safe Place to Work - OSHA Guidelines
You should be aware if you have been injured in a workplace accident, that your employer has certain responsibilities under the law. Employers must provide a safe place to work that is free of serious safety hazards. Employers are required to abide by all OSHA health and safety standards. They have the responsibility to eliminate hazards by making changes in working conditions. They must find and correct health and safety problems.
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OSHA Standard for Reporting Catastrophes and Fatalities
According to OSHA Standard, 29 CFR Subpart 1904.39, "Reporting Fatality, Injury, and Illness Information to the Government," employers are required to report catastrophes and deaths within eight hours in person or by phone to the OSHA office or to the State Plan office nearest to the site where the incident occurred. The OSHA central telephone number used to report is (800) 321-6742.
Reporting safety violations is the best method for an employee to improve their work conditions and protect themselves and their coworkers from avoidable injuries. Employers have no legal right to terminate an employee for reporting an OSHA violation, according to Section 11(c). Any employee who reports an OSHA violation is legally protected as a whistleblower, meaning they cannot be terminated, lose wages or bonus opportunities, be denied benefits, transferred, or be punished in any way for filing a violation with OSHA.
In addition to common safety issues such as unstable scaffolding or lack of protective eye equipment, employees can also report sexual harassment, as outlined by Section 5(a)(1). If an employee feels unsafe and has reported a complaint to an employee, they can refuse to work on the grounds of dangerous work conditions. Any employee who is afraid of being terminated or losing benefits as a result of reporting an OSHA violation should report a complaint at the number above or through an online form.
Ensuring Every Employee is Properly Trained
One of the most important elements of avoiding workplace injuries is thorough training across the board for all employees, from apprentice construction workers to superintendents. As outlined by the New York Department of Buildings (DOB), New York City Local Law 196 of 2017 requires that certain employees and supervisors receive a mandated amount of hourly training:
- By September, 2020, new hires are required to complete both a 10-hour training course (OSHA 10 Version) before they are allowed to begin working and a 30-hour training course (OSHA 30 Version) in the first six months of their work OR a DOB approved 40-hour training course (OSHA 40 Version) OR a 100-hour training course (OSHA 100 Version)
- Supervisors, including Construction Superintendent, Site Safety Coordinator or Site Safety Manager, must receive 62 hours of training, including both the OSHA 30 and 32 courses.
Training courses have been rolled out by local New York City agencies from 2018 to 2020, and specific requirements may change if local agencies feel training hours need to be adjusted. Employers are also required to post safety signs at job sites where safety is required and must keep an updated log confirming that all employees have been properly training. If you have questions regarding what safety courses are required for your job in New York City, please refer to the DOB employee information page.
Why Do I Need a New York OSHA Violation Attorney?
Even though your employer was required to maintain worker's compensation insurance, once you file a claim, the insurance company may try to lessen the amount they will pay in compensation. Your employer may try to prove your claim invalid. Your injuries may have been equipment related or caused due to negligence on the part of third-party contractors or building owners.
You will need the help of an experienced New York workplace accident attorney who can guide you through the entire process including filing for compensation and appeal if needed. The top NY injury firm of Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP can help you every step of the way. Call (212) 986-7353 for a free initial consultation and let us get started on your case.