A Construction Accident Lawyer must be familiar with all of the laws that apply to workplace injuries, including the standards established by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These standards are official rules and regulations that are legally binding. If an employer violates any of the OSHA standards, and that violation leads to the personal injury of an employee, then your construction accident lawyer can make a legal claim for you.
Personal injury liability in construction accident cases
In a personal injury lawsuit involving a construction accident requires the employee to show proof that the employer or its agent acted negligently, which caused the employee’s injuries. A violation of an OSHA safety standard can go a long way toward proving that the employer failed to meet its duty to take reasonable steps to ensure a safe working environment for its employees.
An example of a construction accident
Scaffolding collapses are common types of construction accidents. Although a construction worker may build the scaffold, the construction company is still responsible for inspecting and supervising in order to monitor the safety of the worksite. If employees are routinely allowed to build scaffolds that do not comply with OSHA standards, then the construction company could be held responsible for the worker’s injuries.
What is OHSA?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency that regulates workplace safety. Created in 1970, OSHA is a division of the Department of Labor which conducts research on workplace safety, disseminates safety standards, maintains workplace health and safety statistics, and enforces safety standards through inspections and penalties for violations.
Applying OSHA on the State level
A large part of OSHA’s activities take place in coordination with each state. Every state has the discretion to create an OSHA state plan which would provide for enforcement of health and safety standards at least as stringent as OSHA standards. When states choose to create a state plan, the safety standards typically apply to both public and private workers. On the other hand, if a state chooses not to create a state plan, OSHA standards will still apply within the state, but only to private workers. Twenty-seven states currently have state plans. Neither Arkansas nor Missouri has a state plan in place.
OSHA Safety Standards
OSHA promulgates safety standards for nearly every safety issue imaginable in the construction industry. The full text of the OSHA safety standards for the construction industry can be found here. Basically, a violation of an applicable OSHA standard can result in an OSHA disciplinary action (usually a fine) and/or personal injury liability.
OSHA Disciplinary Actions
OSHA has an enforcement division that conducts inspections, without notice, either on-site or by telephone or fax. OSHA inspections are prioritized as follows:
- imminent danger
- worker complaints and referrals
- targeted inspections – high injury/illness rates, severe violators, and
- follow-up inspections.
Believe it or not, in construction the most frequently violated standards include scaffolding, falls, hazard communication, respiratory protection, electrical wiring, ladders, and machine guarding. The average fine for an OSHA violation is $1,100.
The dangers of construction work
Construction work can be hazardous, regardless of whether you are working on a small project for a homeowner or a major commercial job. The unfortunate reality is that construction accidents are quite common despite the various regulations and inspections meant to promote job safety. Even with all of the job safety programs in place to help reduce construction site accidents and increase safety awareness, a construction accident lawyer can have his hands full representing victims of work-related injuries. Accidents and injuries involving cranes are only one example of the many types of construction accidents that occur.
Construction accident claims and workers’ comp
Some workers who are injured on the job are hesitant, at first, to speak a lawyer about their construction accident injuries. Often they believe their chances of recovery will be small or the compensation you receive will be minimal. This can be a reasonable concern since most state’s workers’ compensation systems are not very generous. However, after speaking with a construction accident lawyer, who is particularly familiar with the workers’ compensation system, can alleviate a victim’s apprehensions. A construction accident lawyer should have experience in more than just personal injury claims and construction accident claims. He or she should also have experience with the workers’ compensation laws in your state.
If you have questions regarding construction accidents or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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