OSHA Laws – Construction Accident Lawyers in Austin
Each year in the United States more than 800 construction workers die and nearly 137,000 are seriously injured. From bridge erection to roadway paving to demolitions to large scale painting jobs, construction poses a wide range of risks. From falls to dangerous machinery to exposure to asbestos, the opportunities for injury seem endless. Because the construction industry is one of the most dangerous fields, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has compiled an extensive amount of laws to enforce safety and protect construction workers. If your boss failed to follow these regulations, he/she could be held liable for any injuries you sustained.
According to OSHA, “To the extent that a subcontractor of any tier agrees to perform any part of the contract, he also assumes responsibility for complying with the standards in this part with respect to that part. Thus, the prime contractor assumes the entire responsibility under the contract and the subcontractor assumes responsibility with respect to his portion of the work. With respect to subcontracted work, the prime contractor and any subcontractor or subcontractors shall be deemed to have joint responsibility.”
Expectations for Employers
There are many subjects that a construction worker should be familiar with from aerial and scissor lift safety, to back injury/safe lifting, to chemical safety, to confined space training, to eye protection/safety, to excavation and trenching, to fall protection, to forklift safety, to hand and power tools, to ladder safety, to hazard communications, to welding safety. OSHA actually provides a helpful construction eTool that explains the various dangers in the construction industry and how to deal with these dangers. As much as possible, construction workers should be prepared to “identify, reduce and eliminate” construction-related hazards. According to OSHA, construction management is expected to:
- Provide employees with safe and sanitary working conditions
- Assign safety and health responsibilities
- Give safety and health designees authority to correct hazards
- Ensure employees that they can voice safety and health concerns without fear of reprisal
- Inform employees of hazards
- Post the OSHA state or federal poster
- Evaluate operations, procedures, facilities and equipment to identify hazards
- Monitor exposure levels
- Ensure regular safety and health inspections
- Conduct accident investigations
- Determine if engineering/administrative controls or personnel protective equipment should be used
- Ensure machines and tools are in safe working order
- Institute engineering and work practice controls to eliminate health hazards
- Perform housekeeping to remove hazards
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment
- Develop emergency response plans
- Develop fire prevention and protection programs
- Provide medical services, first aid treatment and supplies
- Train employees to recognize hazards, such as access ladders and stairways and how to handle confined space hazards
- Provide training on applicable standards and safe work practices, such as training on safe operation of equipment
- Record injuries and fatalities
What are your rights?
Employees have a right to know how their employer is protecting them from jobsite hazards. If an employee feels as though there is a violation in regulations, he/she should notify their employer. Afterwards, if this violation is not addressed appropriately, an individual can file an anonymous complaint with OSHA and request an inspection.
Keep in mind however that it is often a better idea to include your name when filing a complaint. If OSHA is certain that you are an employee, your complaint will take higher precedence, whereas if they think you are a non-employee, they might take longer before taking action. If it is proven that a company has violated OSHA standards, the company will have to pay an expensive fine.
After you have been injured while at work and have received the medical attention you need, you should notify your employer of the dangerous condition, file a workers’ compensation claim, consider filing an anonymous complaint to OSHA, and if you are retaliated against, contact OSHA and hire a personal injury attorney immediately. While at work, no one should be unnecessarily put in harm’s way, and if you were, you have every right to seek damages.