What If I Work in an Unsafe Workplace?

Aug 21, 2014 | WC & Other Laws

In 2007, five workers died after a fire broke out inside a pipeline while the workers were resealing it. The fire occurred while the workers were at their workplace at Xcel Energy’s Cabin Creek hydraulic plant. After five years of trial, the Colorado Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuits against the companies. According to the court, the sprayers used by the workers had a warning, in addition to the fact that no evidence was shown to prove that the companies involved committed violations of their duties as employers or failed to give sufficient warnings regarding fire hazards.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) law, employers have a responsibility to create a safe working environment for their employees. Some of these responsibilities include:

• Providing a workplace that is free from serious recognized hazards and comply with the standards prescribed under the OSHA law;

• Making sure that their employees have, and at the same time use, safe tools and equipment;

• Providing safety training in a language and vocabulary known to the workers; and

• Creating and/or updating safety operation procedures and communicating these to the employees.

If the employer does not follow the safety rules and regulations, workers or their representatives may file a complaint and ask Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to inspect their workplace. During the inspection, the OSHA inspector must confidentially talk not only with the complainant but with a reasonable number of workers during the course of the investigation. And then, when the inspector found out that violations of OSHA standards had been committed, OSHA may fine or cite the employer. A citation pertains to the methods that the employer may apply in order to fix the problem. It also includes the date when the corrective action must be complied with.

The employer cannot fire, demote, transfer, or in any way discriminate the person who filed a complaint against it; however, he has the right to contest whether there is a violation committed.

OSHA was passed to prevent workers from being seriously harmed or killed while at work. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are safe and free of known dangers. OSHA enforces workplace safety, provides training, information, and assists workers and employers. Workers who believe that their employer is not following the standards provided for by OSHA may file a complaint so that the latter can inspect their workplace.

Failure to comply with the OSHA can subject the employers to a fine or to years of imprisonment. The fine can range from a few thousand dollars or a hundred thousand dollars more depending on whether the employer is an individual or corporation. Employers can also be fined for their failure to report any workplace injury, illness, or other violations of the law.

If you are a victim of workplace injury because your place of work remains unsafe, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Seek the help of a workers’ compensation attorney from Kaplan Morrell. We have been helping workers from Colorado for 15 years. Call us at 303.780.7329 for a FREE CONSULTATION.