Pennsylvania construction workers may be interested to learn that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is focusing on fall protection in the workplace. In 2015, for example, 350 fatalities out of a total of 937 deaths on construction sites were related to fall accidents. As such, OSHA has attempted to increase workplace safety through several measures.
To try and prevent workplace falls and other violations, OSHA has begun to impose significant fines on employers, especially if the employers commit repeat offenses. For example, a roofing contractor in Florida was fined by OSHA for about $1.5 million after the company continued to violated fall protection standards. Additionally, this employer was added to OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, a program designed to determine which employers need additional monitoring and inspections to ensure they are not committing repeat violations.
OSHA also used to issue press releases that detailed different violations and the punishments doled out to the companies that were involved. However, since President Trump took office, these press releases have for the most part ceased. Some have argued that these press releases do not result in an increase in workplace safety. Others, however, believe that they helped get the word about workplace safety out to a wider audience, especially since OSHA has such small inspection capabilities.
Even if employers take appropriate actions to improve workplace safety, falls and other accidents can still occur. In these cases, injured workers may be eligible to seek workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical bills and in some cases a percentage of the wages that they have lost during the recovery period. This is generally the case even if the accident was due to the worker’s negligence. An attorney can often assist in preparing and filing the required claim documents.