Importance of Workplace Safety
All Texas employers have an ethical and legal obligation to provide workers a safe and secure environment, free from hazards of serious physical injury or death. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency that issues and enforces workplace standards in the United States. If an employee is injured due to an employer’s failure to meet OSHA standards, that employee may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, and rehabilitation treatment.
Contact a workplace injury attorney at Arnold & Itkin LLP today to explore your options.
OSHA Safety Standards at a Glance
Most workplaces in the private sector are governed by OSHA. This includes hospitals, offices, shipyards, warehouses, oil and gas refineries, chemical plants, and construction sites. OSHA requires employers to:
- Make sure that all employees have safe equipment, tools, and materials.
- Report any fatal workplace accident that resulted in three or more workers being hospitalized.
- Provide training and medical examinations where required.
- Keep detailed records of all accidents, injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
- Acknowledge, correct, and post OSHA citations.
What OSHA Violations Look Like
Machines, equipment, tools, and motor vehicles should be maintained on a regular basis or whenever a test or signal indicates that a repair is needed. Floors, stairs, guardrails and other features should be regularly maintained as well.
Improper maintenance can lead to forklifts, steers, cranes, or derricks experiencing problems with:
- Braking and steering
- Transmission or hydraulic systems
- Frayed electrical wiring
- Oily and wet floors, stairways, or ship decks
Periodic inspections can detect defective ladders and scaffolds or defects in equipment such as cranes. Inspections can also reveal whether workers are operating machines properly or following safety protocol, such as using personal protective equipment or safety guards.
Insufficient Training & Supervision
Employers must train employees how to perform their work safely and regularly supervise employees to make sure they are following protocol. For example, workers should be taught how to properly operate power tools such as saws or drills, or how to move heavy equipment or boxes without straining their backs. They should also be required to wear gloves, coveralls, and goggles when operating equipment.
Exposure to Hazardous Conditions
An employer has violated OSHA regulations if it has exposed employees to serious physical injury or death by failing to place guards on moving parts of equipment and machinery, forced employees to work around chemicals and dust that exceed permissible exposure limits, ignored specific requirements for air sampling in confined spaces, or failed to use proper sloping / storage of excavated materials when in trenches.
What Needs to be Done in Case of a Fire
In any building there is the risk of a fire. All employees should be prepared as to how to handle this sudden and unexpected emergency. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it is important that all companies have fire prevention and emergency action plans in place. At Arnold & Itkin, we are dedicated to keeping companies accountable and seeking compensation on behalf of injured workers. If you are harmed because your company did not have an emergency action plan or a fire prevention plan, then you may be able to sue for damages.
Emergency Action Plans
Emergency action plans are guidelines that will be used in the event of a sudden emergency in the office. Companies with less than 10 people can communicate this plan orally, with those with 10+ need to post it on a poster in a place where it is visible for all employees to review. Chosen employees may be designated to assist in an evacuation process. These employees are required to receive assigned jobs and be trained to carry out those jobs. If an employee's role changes then he or she is required to attend a meeting to learn about the changes.
The OSHA has provided minimum elements that must be included in every emergency action plan:
- Procedures for reporting fires and emergencies
- Procedures for emergency evacuation
- Exit route assignments
- Procedures for employees that may need to stay behind
- Procedures to account for all employees post-evacuation
- Alarm systems set
- Procedures for employees to perform rescue operations
- Procedures for employees to perform medical duties
Fire Prevention Plans
A fire prevention plan is different from an emergency action plan, in that it only concerns the possibility of a fire.
There are minimum provisions required by the OSHA for fire prevention plans as well. These involve:
- Listing all major fire hazards
- Training employees how to handle hazardous materials
- Listing protection necessary to control major hazards
- Creating plans to control flammable materials
- Naming who is responsible to control fuel source hazards
- Maintaining safeguards on heat-producing equipment
- Designating employees to maintain equipment and prevent or control sources of ignition or fires
If you work at a company where these requirements were not followed, then you may be able seek compensation if you are injured as a result. All companies need to make sure to enforce their emergency action and fire prevention plans in order to enhance the safety of those around them.
Contact a Texas Workplace Injury Attorney for a Free Case Evaluation: (888) 493-1629
If your employer has demonstrated negligence, carelessness, or indifference to OSHA standards, they could be responsible for your injury or illness. Talk to a Texas workplace injury attorney from Arnold & Itkin LLP if you would like to discuss your case in full in a free consultation. We examine every aspect of your case to defend your rights. We’re more than happy to discuss your case by phone or with our simple online form.
Call (888) 493-1629 as soon as possible or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.