Do employers have to report workplace injuries to OSHA?

Establishing fault isn’t a prerequisite to a worker receiving workers’ compensation benefits for an on-the-job injury. However, in light of the recent collapse of a 15-story crane, readers may question what role fault can play in the wake of a workplace accident. 

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s website, all employers are required to report certain types of workplace injuries, including fatalities, hospitalizations, loss of an eye or limb. OSHA officials may also launch their own investigation after some accidents. 

Notably, a worker may also report unsafe working conditions through OSHA’s online portal. This right, established by federal law, provides a way for employees to request an OSHA inspection of their working conditions for the purpose of evaluating an alleged hazard or regulatory violations. 

Unfortunately, some workplace hazards or safety concerns become apparent only with the benefit of hindsight. In the recent example of the Manhattan crane collapse, the operator may have chosen to suspend operations given the 20 to 25 mph wind gusts. The decision would have been voluntary, as local law required a cessation of crane operations only when winds reach 30 mph. As with driving a car or operating any machinery, however, environmental conditions should affect one's choices in the moment.

As a law firm that focuses on workers’ compensation, we understand that third-party fault may sometimes play a role in workplace accidents, or that non-employees might also be injured by an incident. In such event, a separate personal injury claim may be available. A standard of care in that type of lawsuit, from a legal perspective, is established by how a jury determines a reasonable person would have acted under the circumstances.

Source: Crain’s New York Business, “Crane collapse kills one, equipment owner linked to other accidents,” Joe Anuta, Feb. 5, 2016

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