Georgia lumber mill Interstate Resources Inc. (DBA RB Lumber LLC) was cited for repeat safety violations for failing to provide fall protection equipment to employees, according to a recent OSHA press release. The company also was cited for exposing workers to electrical shock hazards, unguarded machine parts, and struck-by hazards. The citation includes fines of just under $60,000. The incident highlights two specific common types of safety violations.
Repeat violations are not necessarily “serious” violations, though they are taken more seriously by OSHA because, as the term implies, the company has already been previously cited for the violations and has failed to correct them. In this case, the fall and shock hazards constituted the repeat violations. An agency official explained his frustration as a result of the finding in light of these past violations:
“RB Lumber continues to expose workers to hazards that were previously identified by inspectors. There is no reason we should be finding these hazards again,” said Robert Vazzi, director of OSHA’s Savannah Area Office. “It’s management’s responsibility to protect workers and they must take action immediately.”
Serious violations are a distinct category of safety violations defined as follows:
“A serious violation exists when the workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation.”
The citations were issued after an agency procedure known as an informal conference. An informal conference is an optional procedure that companies may request upon first issuance of a citation in order to:
- Obtain a better explanation for the violations cited;
- Obtain a more complete understanding of the specific standards that apply;
- Discuss ways to correct violations;
- Discuss problems concerning the abatement dates;
- Discuss problems concerning employee safety practices;
- Resolve disputed violations; and
- Obtain answers to any other questions they may have.
Implications for Your Workers’ Compensation Case
You don’t need to prove OSHA safety violations to recover workers’ compensation if you are injured because fault is not generally relevant in such cases unless the injured worker caused their own injury intentionally or due to intoxication. However, the presence of such violations does make it harder for your employer to frivolously oppose your claim because it makes it less likely that these defenses will be available to them. Workplace safety violations are a serious issue. OSHA regulations are one aspect of promoting workplace safety. Workers’ compensation is the other side of the coin.
Contact an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have been injured on the job, you are very likely entitled to workers’ compensation payments. Do not let your employer or their insurer avoid responsibility by pressuring you to drop your claim. Do not delay while medical expenses pile up and you are kept from working. Contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at the Bader Scott Injury Lawyers today. We will fight to make sure your employer is held accountable and that you are compensated for your injuries without unnecessary delay.