On December 29, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”) in response to an obvious need to protect U.S. workers’ lives. This year marks OSHA’s 50th anniversary since its enactment. While OSHA’s impact has played a major impact on U.S. workers’ safety and health, there is still a long way to go for employers providing jobs within the United States’ workforce.
Encouraging Statistics And Positive Changes Implemented For U.S. Workers
Since OSHA was created in 1971, the workplace fatality rate has declined 62%, and occupational injury and illness rates have dropped 42%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, injury and illness rates declined in 2001 for the ninth year in a row to an all-time low of 5.7%. A few significant achievements that OSHA has obtained over the past 5 decades are:
- the first standard on asbestos is adopted
- OSHA Training Institute is established to train compliance officers, federal personnel, and the general public on workplace safety and health
- the United States Supreme Court affirms that workers have the right to refuse work deemed hazardous or causing serious injury without fear of retaliation (whistleblower act)
- Hazard Communication Standard—a worker’s right to know which chemicals they may be exposed to in the workplace—is enacted
- Lockout/Tagout Standard is adopted to protect workers from unexpected startup of machinery or release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance
- Workers begin to receive safety and health training through the first OSHA Education Centers, and the agency expands collaboration with employers
- New standards regarding fall protection are implemented
- Fire Protection in Shipyard Employment is implemented for those who work in shipyards, offshore, and at land-side facilities
- Employers are required to provide their employees with personal protective equipment “PPE”
- OSHA helps protect workers performing response and cleanup activities in the aftermath of the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill
- OSHA addresses the number one cause of worker fatalities—deaths resulting from falls—by launching the fall prevention campaign
Common Causes Of Workplace Injuries
Many large corporations argue that accidents are going to happen no matter how safe you are. This is not true. Some of the most common factors attributable to workplace injuries are:
- Negligent training
- Negligent supervision
- Negligent hiring
- Placing profits over safety
- Making efforts to stay on schedule at the expense of safety
- Noncompliance with OSHA regulations
What Rights Do I Have Under OSHA?
- Ask OSHA to inspect your workplace
- Exercise your legal rights without retaliation and discrimination
- Report workplace injuries
- Secure information and training, in a language that you understand, about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that apply to your workplace
- Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Receive copies of your medical records
What Should I Do If I Was Seriously Injured While Working For My Employer?
As mentioned above, an injured worker (or family member) has the right to explore its legal rights without retaliation or discrimination. There are numerous legal intricacies and fact-finding that must be investigated when a worker is injured on the job—which is why it is so important to speak with a lawyer experienced in workplace injuries.
Contact an experienced Houston work injury lawyer at Morrow and Sheppard LLP who can help you seek maximum compensation for your loss.
If you or a loved one were injured or tragically killed in a workplace accident due to others’ negligence, call our office for a free, confidential consultation at (800) 489-2216 or fill out our free case review form.