The Impact of Workplace Safety Regulations on Workers’ Compensation Claims

As a California employee, you expect your employer to maintain a safe work environment and prevent injuries and illnesses on the job. The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) also expects this of your employer — in fact, the law requires it. 

If your employer has violated OSHA guidelines, causing your injury, you may be eligible for compensation beyond a workers’ compensation claim. Learn the connection between workplace safety regulations and workers’ compensation claims in California, then contact Khalil Law Group for assistance with your claim. 

OSHA and Workplace Safety

OSHA is a regulatory agency the U.S. Department of Labor oversees to inspect and examine workplace safety standards. OSHA’s goal is to protect workers from hazards at work and ensure safe work environments. 

This agency sets safety protocols unique to each industry, and employers are responsible for ensuring that their workplaces meet these standards. A few examples of general OSHA requirements include:

  • Preventing worker exposure to harmful substances
  • Implementing fall protection measures
  • Providing respiratory protection in industries with airborne contaminants
  • Preventing trenching cave-ins at construction sites
  • Adequately training employees
  • Preventing the spread of infectious diseases

Failing to meet these requirements may place employees’ safety on the line.

Common Examples of OSHA Violations

When California employers violate OSHA guidelines, they face significant fines of up to $7,000 per violation. The Department of Labor issues citations and proposes the necessary penalties. The company must also take measures to correct the violation. 

Some of the more common OSHA violations in California include failing to:

  • Properly maintain safety data sheets
  • Implement fall protection measures
  • Label chemicals correctly
  • Properly train employees
  • Provide adequate respiratory protection
  • Conduct medical evaluations of employees
  • Properly maintain equipment

What if an OSHA Violation Led to Your Injury?

California workers’ compensation laws require almost all California employers to offer workers’ compensation benefits, even if the company only has one employee. When you experience a work-related injury, you have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim and seek payment for your medical treatment, time off work, and related expenses. 

But what if your injury was the result of an OSHA violation? 

An OSHA violation won’t impact your ability to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ comp covers almost all injuries that occur on the job, regardless of their cause.  

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault benefit. Usually, filing a workers’ comp claim bars you from seeking other forms of compensation from your employer. 

However, in the face of an OSHA violation, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim simultaneously. Workers’ comp claims would seek benefits from employers’ private insurers, while personal injury claims would pursue compensation from employers directly. 

Still, your worker’s comp claim could impact the amount of compensation you can seek in a personal injury lawsuit. Work with an experienced attorney to navigate violations of workplace safety regulations and workers’ compensation claims. You may decide to file a lawsuit instead of a workers’ compensation claim if your claim would impact your eligibility for further compensation. 

What Compensation Can You Seek in a Workers’ Comp Claim vs. a Personal Injury Lawsuit? 

If you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit alongside your workers’ compensation claim, you may be eligible for additional compensation. 

Workers’ compensation generally covers expenses directly related to your workplace injury, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Wage benefits

Meanwhile, you can seek the following non-economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional damage
  • Loss of enjoyment of life 
  • Loss of companionship (in a workplace fatality case)

In some instances, your employer may even owe you punitive damages as a punishment for egregious behavior. If you were subject to particularly horrendous workplace conditions, these damages may apply to your case. 

Reporting an OSHA Violation in California

The first step in holding your employer accountable for a transgression that led to your injury is reporting the OSHA violation. Under the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973, all employees have a right to file complaints about workplace hazards and safety issues.

Your name will be confidential in your complaint unless you request otherwise, but keep in mind that pursuing a personal injury lawsuit would bring your name to light. 

You can file a complaint directly with Cal/OSHA through this process:

  1. Call or email the closest Cal/OSHA Enforcement District Office to your workplace. Use this district office locator to find the closest office.
  2. Provide as much information about the OSHA violation as possible. Information may include a description of the hazard, how long it has existed, incidents that have occurred from the hazard, your manager’s name and job title, and the number of employees exposed to the hazard.
  3. OSHA will either conduct an unannounced onsite inspection or send an investigation letter. The agency will review the details of your claim to determine the right course of action. 
  4. You will have the right to speak with the OSHA inspector in private to provide any additional information about the hazards. 
  5. OSHA will send a letter to you and your employer detailing its findings and issuing any citations after the inspection. OSHA will also notify all employees of the hazard, and your employer must post a copy of the letter near the location of the hazard.  

You may fear that your employer will punish you for reporting an OSHA violation, but employer retaliation is against the law and can result in further penalties for your employer. Reporting violations is a crucial step in preventing future injuries and holding your employer accountable for failing to maintain a safe workplace. 

Seek Legal Assistance for Workplace Safety Regulations and Workers’ Compensation Claims 

As an injured worker, you probably have a lot on your mind. Reporting an OSHA violation and taking legal action against your employer may be an overwhelming thought, but this course of action can help you begin moving forward from your workplace accident.

Instead of navigating workplace safety regulations and workers’ compensation claims alone, seek legal guidance from a professional workers’ comp attorney. Contact Khalil Law Group today at 714-617-7870 for a free consultation.

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