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What Is OSHA and How Does it Protect Workers?

February 19, 2020 by Katie McClure

Pile of documents with Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA.

In 1970, the OSH Act was enacted. The law made it clear that all employers must provide their employees with safe working conditions. It also established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This agency is responsible for enforcing the standards that employers must meet, and it holds them responsible when they fail to do so by imposing fines and other penalties. When employers ignore safety codes and rules, they place workers’ lives in danger. As a result, OSHA penalties can be harsh.

Often, employees do not understand OSHA regulations and what constitutes a violation of those rules. A Colorado workers’ compensation lawyer at The Sawaya Law Firm can help workers when they are hurt on the job by helping them to identify OSHA violations and pursue the compensation they need to recover from their injuries.

How Does OSHA Protect Colorado Workers?

Most private sector employers and employees are subject to OSHA regulations. The agency also oversees federal employers and employees, and the conditions in which these workers perform their duties. However, OSHA does not have the authority to fine a federal agency. 

OSHA protects most workers in the U.S. except for:

  • Federal workers
  • Workers in fields which a different federal agency oversees such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Self-employed individuals.
  • Workers at farms with fewer than 10 employees.

OSHA protects workers by outlining the health and safety standards for a number of industries. Hospitals, construction and maritime operations are just a few of the industries which OSHA oversees. OSHA also provides training to employers pertaining to workplace health and safety. The agency’s goal is to provide this training before injuries or deaths occur in workplaces by educating employers and teaching them how to identify dangerous conditions in a workplace.

Do OSHA Regulations Apply in Colorado?

OSHA protects private workers in Colorado. If OSHA discovers a violation at a workplace – typically due to tips or investigations triggered by accidents – it will impose punishment on the employer. If a worker believes that a dangerous condition exists at a workplace, the worker can report it to OSHA. In addition to fines and other penalties, OSHA can force an employer to correct the dangerous condition.

However, Colorado is not considered a state-plan state. So, federal workers are not protected under OSHA in Colorado. Although federal workers can take steps if they are injured on the job, reporting an employer to OSHA is not one of them.   

When individuals are hurt on the job, they should speak to a Colorado workers’ compensation attorney at The Sawaya Law Firm that can help them to determine if they are protected by OSHA. A lawyer at our firm can also help injured employees to pursue any type of compensation which they are entitled to receive under Colorado law.

Will OSHA Investigate If You are Hurt on the Job?

An OSHA investigation primarily consists of a representative visiting the place of employment and inspecting the property, with additional consideration being given to the area where the employee was hurt. After a violation is reported to OSHA, it is placed into a category. 

If it is a Category 1 violation, it means that an OSHA inspection will be required. These accidents include reports of a fatality or an accident that required at least two staff members to be hospitalized and other serious accidents. If a violation falls within Category 2, it means that OSHA may or may investigate it. 

Does an OSHA Violation Have Any Effect on Your Workers’ Comp Claim?

In Colorado, when a worker gets hurt on the job, the worker may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation. These benefits can cover all of an injured worker’s medical expenses. It can also compensate the worker for a portion of the wages which they lose due to their work-related disability.

Workers’ compensation in Colorado, as in most other states, is a no-fault system. So, an employee does not have to prove that his or her employer was negligent in order to receive benefits. At the same time, a worker can receive benefits even if the worker was partially or even wholly at fault for the injury. 

Due to the fact that workers’ compensation claims do not rest on negligence, an OSHA violation will, in practical terms, have little effect on a workers’ compensation claim. Employees can receive medical and wage-loss benefits regardless of whether an OSHA violation caused the accident that resulted in the injury. However, if an OSHA violation occurred, it can support the worker’s claim that his or her injury occurred within the scope and course of the worker’s employment.

In some circumstances, an injured worker may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against someone other than an employer or co-worker. This is called a third-party injury claim. When this occurs, an OSHA violation may help to prove negligence. When you work with The Sawaya Law Firm on your work injury case, we will help you to understand and explore all options available to you for seeking compensation that you deserve.

Get Help from Our Colorado Work Injury Lawyers Today

Workers in Colorado are protected by many pieces of legislation when they are injured on the job. The Workers’ Compensation Act and the OSH Act are just two of these laws. In particular, under the workers’ compensation system, individuals that are hurt on the job can seek benefits that can help with their medical expenses and lost income. However, no one should try to file a workers’ compensation claim on his or her own.

At The Sawaya Law Firm, our Colorado workers’ compensation lawyers can help you to file your claim, ensure all procedural rules are followed and give you the best chance of securing the benefits and other compensation that you are entitled to receive. If your injury resulted from an OSHA violation, we can also help you to file a report with OSHA in order to get the situation corrected. To learn more about how we can help you, call or reach us online today and receive a free consultation. 

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