The worst thing any North Carolina family can go through, is to have the sole bread-winner of the family injured on the job — or even killed. Livelihood is taken away, and many families are left struggling until workers’ compensation benefits kick in. When a death or injury takes place in a working environment, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration always evaluates, and if there are safety hazards present, the company will be fined. Many North Carolina families suffer when a worker injured on the job does not get the justice they feel they deserve as a result of the company disputing the fines they receive.
After a man was fatally injured on the job at his North Carolina place of employment, OSHA fined the company for $4,500 after discovering three serious safety violations. It has been over a year since the man died on the job, and the company still has not paid up. Instead, they are choosing to dispute the claims of safety hazards. This can make a family feel as if justice has not been served, and that the worker injured on the job is almost expendable.
According to OSHA reports, businesses disputing claims of safety hazards or violations is fairly common. From the beginning of 2010 to July of 2013, OSHA has had to report more than $17.5 million in fines as a result of safety hazards. Over 1/3 of these fines have yet to be paid.
Many experts say the already low penalties don’t do much to ensure the workers have a safer workplace. They claim that companies may see it as doing little damage to have to pay the fines — although they may dispute them. They say that companies see it as paying the small fine and proceeding with their own lives. It is clear that the life of any North Carolina worker killed or injured on the job is worth much more than almost $5,000. A family should not have to settle for such a low amount, nor should they have to deal with never getting the entitled money due to the company appealing the claim.
Source: ABC 11 news, I-Team: North Carolina worker safety fines go uncollected, Steve Daniels, Nov. 14, 2013