December 11, 2023
Do I Need a Lawyer to File an OSHA Complaint?
By Jonathan Damashek
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) enforces workplace safety regulations. It provides training for employees and employers so they understand the precautions and policies designed to ensure a safe work environment.
Learn more about OSHA, how it interacts with workers, and how workers can report a violation.
What Is OSHA and How Does it Help?
OSHA was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, designed to protect workers’ rights to a safe workplace. The goal of the administration is to prevent worker deaths or serious injuries. Accidents can still happen on the job, but the risk can be mitigated with OSHA regulations.
In 2021, OSHA reported 24,333 inspections. More than half of those inspections were unscheduled or “unprogrammed.” These visits can be triggered by imminent dangers, fatalities, or catastrophes at the worksite, or complaints or referrals sent to OSHA.
Since the administration’s inception, it reported that workplace fatalities have been reduced by 60% and occupational injury or illness rates have dropped by 40%, even as the labor force grows.
Common OSHA Violations
OSHA violations are found during inspections. Violations happen when an employer or company ignores safety hazards. Violations don’t need to cause an incident: the administration takes potential threats seriously.
There are six types of violations, each with its own level of fines ranging from light to extreme. For instance, a “minimal-only severity” level violation could have a fine of $1,000 up to $14,502 depending on the violation’s severity.
OSHA reports the most common violations found annually. In 2022, the top 10 violations were:
- Fall protection
- Hazard communication
- Respiratory protection
- Control of hazardous energy
- Powered industrial trucks
- Fall protection (training requirements)
- Eye and face protection
- Machine guarding
Can an Attorney Help Me with an OSHA Complaint?
Employers must provide a workplace free of hazards and remedy any hazards once they’re found. While OSHA regularly inspects workplaces, there are still possible hazards that aren’t evident during the inspection. For instance, a new scaffolding set might get erected after a visit, so it isn’t thoroughly inspected. The scaffolding’s construction could violate OSHA regulations.
Employers are required to report any fatal incidents or catastrophes to OSHA. The administration will visit the work site for an inspection. Inspections can also be triggered by complaints filed by employees who notice some potential violations.
You may consider working with an attorney if you’re reporting a violation. Although workers are protected when they file complaints, there’s still a chance your employer may attempt retaliation. An attorney can ensure you’re following the proper procedure to file a complaint that won’t identify you to your employer, and that your complaint has the best chance to affect change in your workplace.
Can I be Compensated if an OSHA Violation Hurts Me?
If you’re injured because something wasn’t up to an OSHA standard, there is a chance you can get compensation. In New York, most employers will have workers’ compensation available for injuries sustained on the job. You might not have a claim against your employer, so working with an experienced personal injury lawyer will help you establish a case.
You could file a third-party liability lawsuit if the OSHA violation was caused by someone who wasn’t your employer, like an independent subcontractor.
Contact a NY Construction Accident Lawyer Now
If you’ve been injured on a work site, you can rely on a seasoned New York City construction accident lawyer from Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. We’ve helped clients recover millions after they’ve been hurt on the job. We are ready to hear your case and evaluate if you have a claim. Construction is a necessary but dangerous industry, and we understand how damaging losing work after an injury can be.