The acronym for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, has become part of the lexicon for employers and employees across the United States. Yet, few people take the time to fully understand the purpose and power of this government agency; that is, until they find themselves searching for answers in the aftermath of a work-related injury.
If you’ve been injured on the job in New York, you may be scrambling to familiarize yourself with your rights to a safe work environment under OSHA. An experienced New York construction accident lawyer and workplace injury attorney can help you make sense of it all while giving your case the attention it deserves.
Call The Weinstein Law Group at 212-741-3800 today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. An experienced attorney is ready to discuss the details of your case and give you the answers you’ve been looking for. We help you identify all sources of possible compensation for your workplace injury, and we fight to claim the maximum amount of damages available.
To help you know what resources you have available after a workplace injury or in a hazardous work environment, we’ve put together this helpful overview that explains what OSHA is, what it does, and how it might affect an injury settlement case.
An Overview of OSHA
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is a public health agency run by the Department of Labor in the United States government. Designed to protect the wellbeing of employees and employers alike, OSHA defines, oversees, and enforces modern standards of safe business practices.
Acting as a liaison between the federal government and the private business sector, OSHA ensures safety in the workplace through measures including but not limited to: conducting routine inspections of workplace environments, providing job-specific training and educational outreach, and holding businesses accountable for maintaining appropriate operating conditions.
Why Was OSHA Created?
OSHA was created in response to an alarming rise in work-related injuries and deaths throughout the economic boom of the 1960s. Rapid industry growth created a wave of labor-related careers. It also stoked demand for new workers, who were being brought on board with little training and few, if any, measures to ensure their wellbeing on the job.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (the OSH Act) was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in December of 1970. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed to enforce it in the spring of 1971. This act sought to improve and regulate the safety of working conditions through research, education, active monitoring, and strict code enforcement.
Since its inception, OSHA has aimed to prevent workplace tragedy before it occurs by thoroughly addressing the unique safety needs of each industry it oversees. Prior to the creation of OSHA, the responsibility of worker health and job site safety fell largely upon the shoulders of labor unions, which lacked the country-wide uniformity, regulatory authority, or nationally organized protocols necessary to keep our American workforce free of unnecessary dangers.
How Does OSHA Protect Workers?
OSHA protects workers primarily by setting uniform standards of working conditions and educating employees and employers on what these standards are and why they matter. The agency has created a structured system, through which all members of the workforce can expect protection from negligent working conditions.
These regulatory enforcements are backed by the US government and independent from the influence of individual labor unions or internalized industry politics.
OSHA is actively involved in the operational standards of nearly every private industry. Their large, mandatorily-displayed infographics explain vital safety information and up-to-date regulations. These documents openly inform workers of their rights as well as their requirements, clearly state the responsibilities of their employer, and provide the appropriate contacts for reporting concerns and asking questions.
Under OSHA, every employee has the right to know what kind of workplace they are involving themselves with and what measures their employer is taking to ensure their safety. This includes but is not limited to:
- What kind of monitoring is being done in the workplace
- The nature of and results of inspections performed
- Records for all injuries, deaths, and past violations.
Access to this kind of information gives employees the power of choice in who they work for. They also gain critical awareness they may need to keep themselves safe from injury and exploitation. Individuals who suspect dangerous conditions or who have been directly affected by them can report suspected violations to OSHA, who will then demand a response from the employer. If the employer does not remediate the concerns within five days – or the concerns involve imminent danger – then OSHA may send an inspector to the site to document conditions firsthand.
OSHA’s presence gives workers a highly specialized, federally-regulated system to rely on that is free from potential retaliation and cannot be swayed by office favoritism, biases, or other such internal politics. This non-partisan support is especially important for the protection of whistleblowers, who play a vital role in maintaining industry transparency and equal treatment for everyone.
How Does OSHA Hold Businesses Accountable?
For nearly 50 years, OSHA has been developing and implementing a variety of ever-evolving tactics to ensure that rules regarding the safety and health of workers are being followed to the letter of the law. OSHA maintains comprehensive requirements that businesses must adhere to if they want to avoid hefty fines and serious legal ramifications.
Between free on-site safety training for businesses, thoroughly laid out protocols, routine workplace inspections, and open availability to answer all safety and health-related questions and concerns, there is virtually no excuse for employer delinquency.
So, what happens when a business is suspected to be violating the law and/or putting their workers at risk?
Perhaps the most important role of OSHA is their handling of code infringements. At any point and for any reason, an employee has the right to submit a complaint to OSHA about the safety of their working conditions, and OSHA will open an investigation into the matter while protecting the identity and job security of that employee.
How Might OSHA Affect My Injury Claim?
If you have been injured on the job in New York and believe your employer has not met the legal requirements for a safe and healthy workplace, they may be facing more than just your workers’ comp claim requests. Accidents happen, but negligence is punishable under OSHA regulations and you as a worker have a right to seek justice.
A construction accident lawyer in New York who is experienced with OSHA procedures, like the attorneys at the Weinstein Law Group, can help you understand the full depth of the violation which caused you undue pain and suffering on the job.