Business owners in Minnesota, as elsewhere in the U.S., are probably aware of how OSHA regulates workplace safety. This is especially true in construction and other environments where workers are in danger of falling from high elevations.
It’s unfortunate that for the sixth year in a row, the violation of fall protection guidelines topped the organization’s list of top 10 workplace safety violations in fiscal year 2017. Over 6,000 citations were issued because companies did not, for instance, install railings and safety nets for elevated work areas or provide their workers with harnesses and lines when necessary. The top 10 list went on with other items also seen in previous lists, such as violations of hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection and lockout/tagout requirements.
One new addition may point toward a trend in the future: 1,523 citations were issued for failure to provide adequate training on the identification of fall hazards and on the proper use and maintenance of fall prevention equipment. This comes in the wake of OSHA’s issued Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection rule, which laid out new training requirements and required companies to comply with them by May 17, 2017. The effect of the rule’s other provisions regarding fall protection, ladders and walking-working surfaces have yet to be seen.
If companies willfully neglect to follow OSHA standards, they can face hefty fines. Likewise, victims of workplace injuries who believe that willful neglect on the employer’s part contributed to their accident may be able to receive a settlement compensating them for medical bills, lost income and other matters. However, if negligence was not a cause of the accident, it might be better to talk with a lawyer about filing for workers’ compensation benefits. A lawyer may be able to estimate a reasonable amount while also explaining the limits to these benefits, including the cap placed on settlements.