OSHA plays an important role in establishing safe and healthy working environments for employees. Workers’ compensation provides payment for medical expenses, compensation, and rehabilitation costs to employees who are injured in the course and scope of their job. Although both are concerned with the interests and well-being of employees, the two are distinct programs that can become intertwined and confused.
What is OSHA?
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is the federal agency responsible for protecting the health and safety of workers in the United States. This administrative agency was created by Congress in 1971 after the passing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 with the goal of establishing workplace standards throughout the country. Since the passing of this act, OSHA standards have significantly reduced overall injuries and illness rates for workers. OSHA has extended coverage to almost all private-sector employers, and even some public sector employers. While it doesn’t cover self-employed workers, OSHA reaches all 50 states with varying State-Plans that comply with, or enhance, the regulations imposed by the Federal standards.
What is OSHA’s Role in the Workplace?
OSHA sets requirements based on extensive research of specific workplaces to establish accurate and beneficial standards for employees. The administration provides training, equipment, and explanations of procedures to encourage compliance from employers. In addition, OSHA enforces misconduct in the workplace through issuing fines and even sometimes criminal prosecution referrals for serious violations. By creating and enforcing these standards, OSHA provides an efficient and fair standard for different workplaces that protect workers’ overall health and safety in their respective environments.
How Does a Violation of OSHA Standards Impact My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Although both programs govern the interest of employees, OSHA and workers’ compensation are two different programs altogether. OSHA focuses on workplace safety, while workers’ compensation concentrates on an employee’s right to receive medical care or compensation because of a workplace injury. While violating OSHA standards might make a workplace unsafe, a violation of an OSHA standard by your employer will not allow a harmed worker to receive additional compensation or impair their ability to receive compensation. Typically, an injured worker is entitled only to benefits required by law, and therefore an employer has limited liability. If the injury occurred from an OSHA violation by a party other than your employer, this violation could be used as evidence in a personal injury suit in addition to your workers’ compensation claim against your employer. OSHA violations and workers’ compensation claims don’t directly impact one another, but rather are separate programs that protect workers’ interests in different ways.
Should I Still Report OSHA Violations at My Workplace?
It will still be beneficial to report OSHA violations to your employer to help avoid injuries and improve your place of work. If you notice an OSHA violation, reporting this condition to your employer can give an opportunity to fix this issue. In line with the goals of OSHA, reporting violations can result in a healthier and more safe work environment.
If you are hurt on the job due to unsafe working conditions, seek legal counsel, as you may be entitled to workers’ compensation or other benefits. As we have since 1967, we will continue to protect the legal rights of our clients – those who are hurt on the job while working for Alabama employers. If you have been injured on the job and want to learn your rights, please consider contacting the Nomberg Law Firm. Our office number is 205-930-6900.
Bernard D. Nomberg has been a lawyer for more than 25 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. In 2021, Bernard was named a Super Lawyer for the 9th year in a row.