Brain Injury Attorney - Bailey Javins & Carter

How OSHA tries to prevent construction site accidents

Because construction work is so potentially dangerous, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces several safety regulations at construction sites. These regulations can be roughly divided into construction worker rights and obligations OSHA places on contractors and similar employers to provide a reasonably safe workplace.

Employee Rights

Among the rights construction workers enjoy under federal law are:

  • The right to review copies of the appropriate standards, rules, regulations etc. that are provided by the employer.
  • Access to relevant employee exposure and medical records.
  • The ability to request an inspection from the OSHA area director if the worker believes there are violations or hazardous conditions, and have an authorized employee accompany the inspector.
  • Freedom from discrimination or retaliation from their employer after filing a complaint with OSHA.

Employer Obligations

  • Provide a workplace free of recognized hazards.
  • Provide employees with safe tools and equipment.
  • Give workers safety training in a language the workers understand.
  • Inform workers that their medical and exposure records are available, and the location of those records, when they begin employment and at least once a year afterward.
  • Also, inform employees of OSHA safety and health standards that apply to their particular workplace.

These regulations are intended to keep construction sites in West Virginia as safe as reasonably possible. Nevertheless, accidents still occur and construction workers get seriously hurt. It can take months or years to recover from a construction injury. Some victims never fully recover. Even worse, some die from their injuries.

Workers’ compensation can help, but time is of the essence for victims. An attorney can help, especially if your initial application is denied.

Besides workers’ comp, how else do workers get compensated?

Workers’ compensation exists to provide a way for victims of workplace injuries or illnesses an avenue for recovery, so that they need not suffer a financial burden on top of their disabling condition. It also helps employers limit their financial risk. Most of the time, an injured worker cannot both collect workers’ comp and sue his or her employer for damages.

In other words, workers’ compensation is an “exclusive remedy,” with one important exception: when a third party contributed to, or is solely responsible for, the victim’s injuries.

In terms of workplace injuries, third party claims can involve the manufacturers of the product or machine that injured the victim. Say a machine has a defective guard that fails to protect a worker from the machinery. Shouldn’t the company that designed, manufactured and/or sold that defective part be at least partly responsible for compensating the victim?

In general, the employer does not get directly involved in third-party litigation, which takes place in civil court and is separate from the workers’ compensation system. However, the employer can recover its workers’ comp payments and other obligations out of any judgment the injured worker receives from the third party.

Whether or not to pursue a third-party claim depends on the circumstances of the victim’s particular injuries, and perhaps whether workers’ compensation alone is enough to make the victim financially whole again. This could be part of the discussion victims will have with their workers’ compensation attorney, if circumstances make a third-party suit a possibility.