It’s reasonable for employees to assume that their workplace will be made as safe as possible. If there are any potential hazards, proper safety equipment or training should be provided to keep employees safe. Even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces a variety of rules to help ensure healthier work environments, the unfortunate reality is that some employers miss the mark.
Not long ago, a Minnesota-based company was fined by federal officials for multiple workplace safety violations. The agricultural company CHS Inc. was fined for unhealthy air-quality conditions in grain elevators. Of the 19 citations, 14 were considered serious violations, which mean that there was a strong likelihood that workers could have suffered serious or fatal injuries.
In total, CHS was fined $211,000 for their infractions. According to CBS Minnesota, companies have 15 days to pay the fine or contest the OSHA ruling. By issuing a challenge, companies may try to have their fines overturned or reduced.
The specific problem identified by OSHA is that the large company failed to protect employees against exposure to grain dust. Being exposed to fine particles on a regular basis can lead to respiratory illnesses.
Just like suffering a physical injury as the result of a singular accident, employees who contract an illness over time as the result of work-related duties may be entitled to workers’ compensation. After all, a severe illness can prevent an employee from being able to work.
When seeking compensation for workplace illnesses, medical documentation is particularly important. Because an illness might not have resulted from a singular event, employees may need to have symptoms and workplace conditions documented over time. By having a stronger claim, the hope is that an insurer would not have grounds to deny the claim.
Source: CBS Minnesota, “Feds Seek $211K In Fines From Minn. Company,” April 23, 2014