Safety violations in the workplace are alarmingly common. Each year, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes a list of the “top 10 most frequently cited standards,” and it is also widely understood that many, if not most, on-the-job safety violations go unreported. If you have been injured on the job as the result of a safety violation, what are your legal rights? Florida workers’ compensation lawyer Joseph Maus explains:
What Constitutes a Safety Violation in the Workplace?
First, it is worth noting that while many hazardous work conditions are reflective of safety violations, employers are not expected to address all potential hazards. For example, some work environments – including construction sites and hospitals – present certain risks that are simply inherent in the nature of the work that needs to be performed. With that said, employers are still expected to address many different types of safety risks in these and other work environments, and they have obligations to protect their workers under both state and federal law.
State and federal safety rules and regulations address all different types of job-related hazards. For example, OSHA’s “top 10 most frequently cited standards” include those that address:
- Respiratory protection
- Eye and face protection
- Fall protection
- Ladder safety
- Scaffolding safety
- Forklift safety
- Controlling hazardous energy sources
- Machine guarding
- Employee training
- Hazard communication in the workplace
Are You Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits for an Injury Caused by a Safety Violation?
In most cases, employees who suffer injuries due to workplace safety violations will be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation covers job-related injuries from all causes; and, while it is not necessary to prove that your employer committed a safety violation in order to receive benefits, doing so can help to avoid any questions as to whether your injury is truly work-related.
When seeking workers’ compensation benefits for an injury caused by a safety violation, it is important to ensure that you take all of the steps necessary to protect your legal rights. Among other things, this means that you must report the accident within 30 days (although you should do so much sooner if possible), and you may need to see a doctor who has been pre-approved by your employer.
Can You Sue Your Employer for an Injury Caused by a Safety Violation?
Depending on the circumstances involved, a safety violation may provide grounds for an employee to sue his or her employer instead of filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Under Florida law, an employee can sue his or her employer when the company, “engage[s] in conduct that the employer knew, based on prior similar accidents or on explicit warnings specifically identifying a known danger, was virtually certain to result in injury or death to the employee . . . .” While pursuing a personal injury claim is not easy, it allows for the recovery of additional damages beyond the benefits that are available through workers’ compensation.
Schedule a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Claim in Confidence
If you have been injured at work as the result of a safety violation, it is important that you speak with an experienced Florida workers’ compensation lawyer about your legal rights. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Maus Law Firm, call us at 855-999-5297 or contact us online today.