Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers must provide safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. The United States Department of Labor’s agency to ensure that this happens by setting standards and rules is OSHA. One of OSHA’s aims is to reduce workplace injuries like the ones that occur in worker’s compensation cases.
In January of this year, OSHA cited and fined a wholesale food manufacturer and distributor for food and catering industries for a total of $73,400. According to OSHA, the food manufacturer repeatedly violated safety regulations at its Wilmington, Massachusetts production facility.
OSHA’s primary citation was because the facility lacked adequate procedures to stop machines from accidentally starting up while employees were performing service and maintenance on them. Equipment with this problem included cookers and ovens. Another citation was for failing to give its employees training on how to power down and how to prevent the power source from starting up again before performing maintenance. Some of these were similar violations to those for which the food manufacturer had already been cited in 2008.
A workplace contains a serious violation when it is substantially probable that death or serious physical harm may be caused by a hazard that an employer knew or should have known about. Another set of serious violation citations to the food manufacturer led to $18,400. According to OSHA, these were imposed due to lack of routine inspections and maintenance to make sure the plant’s anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system was safely operated. OSHA found there wasn’t enough space between items in storage and overhead pipes that held ammonia to allow employees to safely access items in storage. There were also slip and fall hazards from a wet floor.
The company had 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to change its operations to conform to standards, meet with the area director or contest OSHA’s citations.
Employers owe workers the right to be safe on a work site. OSHA provides federal standards to make sure that employers know what their specific responsibilities are and to make sure they comply with those responsibilities.
Employees like the ones at the food manufacturer’s plant above can file a complaint and request that OSHA inspect their workplace. Their names will not be revealed to their employer. It is against federal law for an employer to retaliate against you if you do voice a workplace safety concern or report a workplace injury. All employers who are covered by OSHA must report to OSHA if any employee dies from a work-related accident. They must also report to OSHA if 3 or more employees are subject to in-patient hospitalization because of a work-related accident within 8 hours.
If you have suffered an injury in the workplace, we can help you resolve the legal issues that arise in this context, so that you can rest and recover. If you are concerned about your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage, ask the experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates what you should do. Call us at 617-367-0880 or contact us via our online form.
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