Employer violations of OSHA safety laws and regulations are the direct cause of thousands of workplace injuries each year. When accidents occur because of such violations, the companies may pay large fines. At the same time, employees also pay with lost wages, serious injuries, and even death. A proven workers comp lawyer is often the worker’s only resort in such a situation.
The High Price of Negligence
OSHA statistics show that falls cause four of every 10 deaths in the construction industry. Moreover, the number of fatal falls in this industry has increased each year since 2010, from 255 to 345. Falls are also the most expensive category of injuries. This is a major reason OSHA inspectors take safety while working at heights so seriously. For example, Illinois contractor Robert Barringer III was fined $214,782 recently for failing to provide adequate fall protection for his workers.
Any construction work done more than six feet off the ground requires adequate fall protection, and greater heights have significant safety requirements, such as safety lines and anchor belts. An experienced workers comp lawyer understands many of the basic OSHA requirements and helps injured workers understand if any violations of those rules contributed to an injury.
In addition to falls, the other top five OSHA work standards violations most often cited in inspections include:
- Hazard communication
- Respiratory protection
- Lockout/tagout failures
Fines are Only Part of the Cost
Employers cited for serious OSHA violations face fines of up to $12,675 per violation, and more if the violation is willful. These fines are assessed daily if the employer does not resolve or abate them, and multiple violations are often assessed at the time, as in the above example. While this is a high cost for those companies, injured employees often find the costs they pay are much higher.
One report puts the annual cost of non-fatal occupational injury and illness at more than $300 billion. Companies pay more than $1 billion a week in workers compensation costs alone. Moreover, OSHA estimates the additional cost of productivity at $60 billion. For the individual worker, a knowledgeable Illinois workers comp lawyer knows that even an average work-related injury represents nearly $38,000 in lost wages and medical expenses.
These numbers show the importance of OSHA compliance to employers and employees. They also explain why a qualified workers comp lawyer will evaluate what violations may have contributed to any on-the-job injury or death.