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What is OSHA's role in a workplace accident?

Some people in the New City, New York, area or one of the other suburbs may have heard about the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. Still, they may not fully understand what this agency does and what its role in workplace safety is.

Many if not most employers in the area are subject to federal safety regulations designed to keep American workers safe and healthy as they do what they need to do to put bread on the table. OSHA is responsible for enforcing these regulations.

Otherwise, some employers may flat out try to ignore the rules in the interest of cost-savings, while others may just not give the rules the attention that they truly deserve until it is too late.

When it comes to a serious workplace accident, employers are obligated to let OSHA know shortly after the accident, presumably so OSHA can arrange for a prompt inspection to be sure that the workplace is safe for other employees. How soon an employer must report depends on the extent of the injuries. For instance, if a worker dies, the employer has 8 hours to self-report.

OSHA conducts inspections for other reasons as well and may at times conduct random or semi-random inspections of a facility. For instance, OSHA will ordinarily respond to an employee tip about hazardous working conditions. In any case, if the OSHA inspector finds violations, the inspector may write the offending company a citation and impose fines or other penalties.

Especially after an accident, OSHA's reports can shed the light on the overall safety practices of a manufacturer and can also be helpful to an injured worker's legal claims. For those seeking New York workers' compensation benefits, how an OSHA report can be helpful is a good question to ask one's attorney.

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