The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the US Department of Labor section responsible for ensuring safe workplaces in the United States. OSHA is also charged with developing new safety standards that account for the evolution of the industry and changing business processes throughout the country. OSHA develops many standards that apply to employers, industries, and geographical regions. If you are an employer in North Carolina, you need to know the state-level OSHA rules that apply to your operation.
OSHA enforces a state-level approved set of standards for North Carolina that applies to all state, local, and private employees. With a few minor exceptions, the North Carolina OSHA standards mirror the nationally enforced federal standards identically. Employers in the state are legally required to abide by all OSHA standards that apply to their business. When unsafe working conditions and regulatory noncompliance result in injuries to workers, the companies responsible face various penalties and civil liability for victims’ damages.
North Carolina state law requires almost all employers in the state to have workers’ compensation insurance. When an employee sustains an injury while performing their job duties, they have the right to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits through their employer’s insurance carrier. All employers are legally required to facilitate claims for workers’ compensation benefits in good faith. They may not fire or otherwise retaliate against workers who request workers’ compensation claim forms.
An employer in North Carolina is legally required to create a formal incident report for the employee’s injury and file it appropriately. The OSHA standards that apply to North Carolina employers include reporting and record keeping requirements. Even if an employer fully complies with an OSHA inquiry or investigation, they can still face serious penalties for failing to keep appropriate records of workplace injuries and safety issues.
While some workplace accidents happen due to no fault of any party in particular, others are the direct result of employers failing to uphold OSHA regulations for workplace safety. Employers found in violation of applicable OSHA standards face severe penalties. Additionally, the victim of the injury is likely to have grounds for civil action beyond their workers’ compensation claim.
OSHA and various other agencies and organizations collect workplace accident data from across the country, identifying the biggest risks facing US workers each day. According to the latest reports from OSHA, the construction and manufacturing industries continue to report the highest rates of workplace injuries and the most fatal work-related injuries in the country each year. Construction requires navigating dangerous unfinished structures, handling heavy and hazardous materials, and using dangerous tools. Manufacturing often entails many of the same risks, especially falls, injuries from falling objects, and medical conditions acquired from exposure to certain manufacturing materials.
Employers in the construction, manufacturing, and other dangerous industrial fields have serious legal responsibilities to their employees. When they fail to uphold OSHA safety standards, they may lose the immunity to civil claims their workers’ compensation insurance usually grants and face a civil suit for their negligence or intentional disregard of applicable safety standards.
If you or a loved one has been injured at work in North Carolina, it’s important to consult an attorney familiar with the state’s OSHA standards. If your employer violated these standards in any way, you could have grounds for further legal recourse beyond a workers’ compensation claim.
OSHA may issue formal penalties against your employer and compel them to correct whatever safety violations resulted in your injury. They may also face fines along with their civil liability for the injured worker’s damages. In addition, in the event that an OSHA investigation reveals that a workplace is severely out of compliance with applicable safety standards,it may shut the operation down entirely until all violations are fully addressed.
OSHA and various other agencies report that there are a few leading causes of workplace injuries and missed days of work throughout the United States yearly:
Whenever a workplace injury occurs, any employee who suspects the incident resulted from a workplace safety violation has the right to file a report to OSHA and/or the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) in good faith. When an employer refuses to acknowledge or address workplace safety issues, they put every employee at risk.
If you or someone you love recently suffered an injury at work in North Carolina, it’s natural to wonder how you can recover from your losses. Workers’ compensation can provide ongoing disability benefits that offset the impact of your inability to work and cover your medical treatment costs. In addition, depending on how your injury happened, you could have grounds to pursue further legal recourse against the party who caused your injury. Whatever your case entails, Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler can help you make informed decisions during your recovery efforts and help you secure the compensation you need to recover. Contact us today and schedule a consultation if you believe your employer has violated the North Carolina OSHA standards for your industry.