Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules require that certain safety procedures are followed and that safety rules are obeyed. In situations where companies fail to fulfill their obligations, OSHA conducts inspections and issues citations. The question, however, is: exactly who is responsible when things go wrong at worksites?
Employees need to understand who is responsible for Atlanta worksite injuries because this can shape their rights when an accident or injury happens on-the-job. An experienced Atlanta work accident lawyer can help those who have been harmed to determine all possible parties who can be held accountable and made to compensate victims of on-the-job accidents.
Who is Responsible for Preventing Atlanta Worksite Injuries
In general, a company is responsible for the safety of its workers. When a business fails to live up to OSHA rules, it is the company that is fined. On August 25, for example, an air filter company located in Atlanta Georgia was issued proposed OSHA penalties of $119,900 because the company repeatedly exposed workers from staffing agencies to serious safety hazards. The company was also put into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which means it will be forced to undergo more routine safety inspections than other businesses.
Of course, companies are made up of the people who work at them. When safety precautions are not followed, it is not the business that made the mistakes but it is the employees and owners of the business who were responsible for safety.
All off often, those who are in charge of protecting employees end up facing no personal consequences for their role in failing to fulfill safety rules and regulations. In some cases, OSHA will refer cases for criminal prosecution. For example, CNN reported that two employees at Bumble Bee Foods were being prosecuted in relation to a worker’s death. The charges were brought against the director of plant operations and the former plant safety manager.
Criminal penalties and OSHA fines are intended to act as a deterrent and encourage businesses to follow safety rules. Workers, however, do not get any benefits or compensation just because a company is fined by OSHA or a company owner is sent to jail. Workers are actually not allowed to sue their employers when worksite accidents happen, except in very limited cases like when there is intentional wrongdoing. Workers can’t sue because Georgia’s workers’ compensation system is an exclusive remedy system and employees are only allowed to make a benefits claim. Workers’ comp benefits pay for loss of wages, provide disability income, and pay for medical treatment- but the compensation is not as broad as the damages available in personal injury claims.
Because employers can’t be sued, it is important for injured workers to determine if anyone else is responsible for the prevention of Atlanta worksite injuries. Sometimes, there are non-employers who have a duty to ensure safety. This could include people like property owners in construction projects, project managers, general contractors, architects, and engineers. An attorney in Georgia with experience handling work injury claims can help to identify whether any non-employer had responsibility for preventing Atlanta worksite injuries. If so, victims of the injuries could file a lawsuit if they can prove negligence.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.