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OSHA Should Do More to Make Sure Violations are Corrected

July 7, 2017 Workers' Compensation

New York City workers’ compensation lawyers represent workers and their families in the aftermath of on-the-job accidents that cause injuries. When a worker is hurt on-the-job or is killed, this can have a devastating personal and financial impact on the employee and his loved ones. Many workers never fully recover from being hurt, and families are shattered forever due to fatal injuries. Prevention of these tragic incidents is vital to spare families from this unfortunate fate, but unfortunately not nearly enough is being done to keep workers safe from harm.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is entrusted with the responsibility of making and enforcing workplace safety laws, but OSHA is understaffed and is not always able to conduct necessary inspections of every worksite it is supposed to be policing. And, when OSHA does conduct inspections and find problems, a new report suggests that the agency does not always make sure that violations are actually being fixed.

Some Say OSHA Isn’t Doing Enough to Ensure Corrections are Made

Safety News Alert reported on new data provided by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Labor. The data shows that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration did not make sure employers corrected violations in 16 percent of cases where citations were issued in 2015.

The OIG conducted a review of a random sampling of 200 different cases in which OSHA had identified workplace safety violations. In 28 of the cases reviewed by OIG, OSHA had failed to make certain that the employees who had been cited for workplace hazards made the necessary fixes so they were no longer putting the lives of workers in jeopardy.

When OSHA failed to follow up, employers often didn’t take the necessary steps to resolve the problems. In a total of seven of the 28 cases, no abatement of the workplace hazard was completed. In 12 of the cases, there was insufficient evidence the employer had successfully corrected the problems. In the remaining nine cases, abatement was completed but employers did not fix the safety issues at work until after the due date when abatement was supposed to have occurred.

If OSHA has the same rate of failure to ensure abatement across all of its cases as it did in this random sampling, which is likely the case, this would mean a total of 12,808 of the total OSHA violations identified during the course of 2015 were not abated. OSHA, however, disputes these findings and suggests that abatement did not occur in just .5% of workplace safety violations.

Whether employees do fix workplace safety issues or not is important in determining the level of risk in a particular workplace. However, employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even if an employer has done everything correctly and the job-site was safe.  New York City workers’ compensation lawyers can help workers to recover benefits for any injuries caused by work tasks, regardless of negligence, so give Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff  a call to find out about the assistance we can provide after you get hurt.