Have you suffered the consequences of safety violations at work?
If you are an employee in any of the many industries in New York, you will likely recognize some of the threats that lead to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s list of most commonly cited safety violations. The agency prepares an annual list for publication in October that it bases on its findings in investigations carried out during the fiscal year. OSHA says the 2016 list includes information from almost 32,000 inspections.
You may not be aware that the number of workplace fatalities every year exceeds 4,500. Also, occupational injuries total about 3 million per year. This is alarming because federal law requires employers to comply with industry-specific safety regulations. If company owners can manage to address the most common hazards, authorities believe there would be a significant reduction in on-the-job deaths, injuries and illnesses. You are entitled to report safety violations to authorities, and retaliation after such reports is unlawful. Most injuries and deaths follow violations of the following regulations:
· Falls: Regardless of whether you spend your days on construction sites or in industrial facilities, you may be exposed to the number one safety hazard. Falls are reportedly the cause of most fatalities and traumatic workplace injuries. There are specific rules related to the heights at which safety harnesses and anchor cords are mandatory. Open platforms and other elevated levels must have guardrails and toe-boards to prevent falls. Damaged or below standard ladders and scaffolds and negligent erection of scaffolding also lead to many fall accidents.
· Unprotected machines: If unguarded moving machine parts pose safety hazards in your workplace, you are entitled to file a report about it. All machines must have lockout/tagout devices fitted to prevent unanticipated activation of dangerous parts while maintenance or cleaning operations are underway. The moving parts of any machine, including conveyor belts, can cause amputation injuries, and in some cases, workers have lost their lives after exposed machine parts pulled them into machines.
· Industrial vehicles: Whether you are working in a factory or on a construction site, powered industrial vehicles will pose a significant threat. Not only are some operators not qualified, but workers who move about in areas where forklifts and other motorized equipment are present must also receive safety training. Compliance with regulations about the safe loading of these vehicles – and not lifting workers to work at higher levels – is vital.
· Toxic exposure: Dangerous substances and toxic fumes are more hazards that might threaten your health. Chemical substances used in manufacturing processes or construction sites where asbestos or silica is present can cause life-threatening occupational illnesses. Respiratory protection equipment is essential, and proper use must be monitored.
· Electrical hazards: Then there is the risk of electrical shocks, which is present in most workplaces. Overhead power lines, exposed electrical wires and areas in which electricity and water are in close proximity are particularly dangerous.
Considering the high number of workplace injuries and fatalities recorded by OSHA in the 2016 fiscal year, you could possibly be the victim of an employer’s disregard of safety regulations in the future. Fortunately, the workers’ compensation insurance system in New York and other states offers benefits that can relieve the financial consequences of such accidents. Many injured victims and the surviving family members of those who lost their lives choose to utilize the skills and experience of a seasoned workers’ compensation attorneyto pursue compensation.