The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is charged with making sure employers follow guidelines for protecting employees and creating a safe worksite. OSHA conducts periodic routine inspections as well as investigations when reportable injuries or fatalities occur on-the-job. If an employer is found to be in violation of workplace safety rules, OSHA can levy fines and impose other penalties. Employers can also be put on a Severe Violators list and become subject to more frequent inspections.
Employers need to make sure they are in compliance with worker safety rules and ready for an inspection to occur. Workers also need to know their rights. If you are an employee who believes your employer is operating an unsafe workspace, you can contact OSHA. A violation of OSHA rules, however, is not necessary for a workers’ compensation claim. Injured workers can seek benefits for on-the-job injuries regardless of whether OSHA rules were followed. In addition, if a third party causes an injury, the injured worker may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person and/or company.
What will an OSHA Inspection Entail?
The Division of Occupational Safety and Health Policies and Procedures Manual provides information on conducting OSHA inspections in California.
In general, employers are not given advance notice of inspections except in limited cases such as when special arrangements are needed to conduct the inspection. Inspections are conducted during normal business hours, and OSHA inspectors will obtain permission to enter the worksite. If an employer refuses entry, the OSHA District Manager must be notified.
When an inspection begins, an opening conference is conducted with the highest ranking personnel available. The OSHA investigator will show ID and explain the purpose and scope of the inspection. The employer will be informed of his rights during this opening conference.
A walk around will occur, with an authorized employee offered the opportunity to come along on the walk around inspection. OSHA investigators will check to see if required notifications are posted, like a Cal/OSHA poster and a list of hazardous substances in the workplace. Inspectors will also be looking for any obvious OSHA violations that may be present in the work environment. Pertinent photographs of the work area may be taken, including photographs of equipment. However, OSHA inspectors must be careful to avoid taking photographs of processes protected by trade secret laws.
OSHA inspectors will also interview a representative number of employees, and will conduct any documentary and physical evidence necessary to show suspected violations.
The last step in the process is an exit conference. If no violations are observed and no citations will be issued, the employer should be notified of this in the exit conference.
How Can a Long Beach Work Injury Lawyer Help?
If you are injured at work, you can pursue a lawsuit against a non-employer third party responsible for harming you. A third party claim is a lawsuit brought against people or businesses that may have been negligent in causing your workplace injury. For example, a third party claim for a construction site accident could be based on a defective piece of equipment that caused the accident in which case a claim can be made against the manufacturer of the equipment. Or another contractor on the same job might negligently cause you to be injured. In these, and other similar cases, a viable 3rd party claim may exist. An experienced attorney can help you determine if such a possible 3rd party claim may be pursued.
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