When it comes to unsafe work conditions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is your ally. However, they will not directly help you in a civil personal injury case. The biggest role they will play in such a case is as an objective fact-finder.
Think of OSHA as a neutral party working parallel to your civil case. They enforce laws and regulations that will make your workplace safer. They also conduct investigations and evidence that acts as an official, unbiased, government-sourced record for some critical case provings.
OSHA may refer you to resources for individuals in a situation similar to yours, such as a public referral resource for pro-bono attorneys. You can also subpoena evidence obtained by an OSHA investigation.
Always report suspected violations to OSHA or, if you have one, a union representative. When you are hurt in a construction accident and think that a non-employer third party may be partially or fully to blame, appoint your own New York construction accident attorney who can help you leverage the evidence OSHA gathers.
The Weinstein Law Group provides representation to construction accident victims at no risk and no up-front charge to them. You only owe fees if we are able to recover money for you, so call us now at (212) 741-3800 or contact us online to schedule a free case review.
What Does OSHA Do When Someone Reports a Violation?
The first thing to recognize is that OSHA has limited resources. The agency conducted just 33,393 inspections in 2019. New York state alone has over 50,000 construction firms.
Because OSHA is physically unable to address every report or complaint, they first give the business owner or manager an opportunity to identify the safety hazard and take corrective action within five days. The person who filed the complaint should receive a copy of the response from the workplace. If they are still not satisfied with the remedial action, they can request an on-site OSHA inspection.
According to their complaint process web page, OSHA’s top concern is identifying hazards that pose, “an immediate risk of death or serious physical harm.” They further explain, “Second priority goes to any fatality or catastrophe – an accident that requires hospitalization of three or more workers.”
Therefore, it may be difficult to convince OSHA to conduct a timely on-site inspection for an accident that injured only one or two workers. Nevertheless, OSHA does make time to address employee complaints and referrals, even if these cases are delayed compared to ones they view as more pressing.
Even though OSHA may not prioritize your case, you should never be discouraged from filing a report. Failing to report your injury could lead to a lack of documentation. Further, if the employer, contractor, or site general contractor was not given the opportunity to discover and correct the safety hazard, they may be able to argue that the injury hazard was not “foreseeable.”
In other words, always consider filing a report a part of due diligence, especially after you have been hurt. Just like failing to file a police report for a car accident, the defending party may allege that they had no reasonable way to foresee the hazard. Or, they may deny the incident altogether without documentation proving otherwise.
What Types of Evidence Can OSHA Obtain?
OSHA inspectors can uncover valuable evidence in the wake of a construction site accident, especially if they visit the site in person.
Common pieces of evidence obtained during such investigations include:
- Interviews with supervisors, employees, managers, and owners
- Photo and video of dangerous conditions
- Audits of safety logs and other compliance documentation
- Physical evidence, including sub-standard work equipment, safety gear, or tools
- Record-keeping of alleged and proven violations
- Citations of specific laws, rules, and regulations the employer, site owner, or general contractor is in violation of
On top of the evidence the OSHA inspector gathers, they are usually willing to provide testimony during a deposition or trial. As an expert in the field of occupational safety, the OSHA employee can provide invaluable expertise and draw conclusions from their data that an attorney can submit as an expert witness opinion.
What Should I Do After I’m Hurt and I Report the Accident to OSHA?
When reporting an accident to OSHA, provide as much information you can with as much specificity as you can. If you can provide photographs, documentation, or copies of safety records, all the better.
Retain copies of all of this evidence, and reach out to an experienced construction accident lawyer in New York. Your attorney can help you determine the optimal way to conduct an investigation and build a strong injury claim. That includes advice for ensuring that OSHA understands the gravity of the situation, encouraging them to conduct a thorough investigation of your injury incident and the construction site’s safety.
While OSHA does their job, let us do ours – helping injured people like you seek the maximum amount of compensation available from all potentially liable parties. Call The Weinstein Law Group today at (212) 741-3800 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation case review.