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Created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is the section of the United States Department of Labor that is in charge of ensuring the safe and healthful working conditions for American employees.  OSHA creates and enforces standards followed by our nation’s businesses, provides training and safety education assistance, and compiles statistics about workplace hazards and injuries.  OSHA covers most private sector businesses in the United States and United States jurisdictions, except self-employed, family farm, and government workers.

 

Enforcement And Reporting

 

OSHA compliance officers perform job site safety inspections without advance notice, either at high priority or previously noncompliant sites, or at facilities that have been reported by whistleblowers or through required accident and injury reports by the companies themselves.  Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, as well as 22 separate federal statutes, provides stringent protections for employees who report workplace safety violations, and retaliation against an employee for reporting against a company will result in heavy fines and other sanctions against an employer.

 

Workers’ Compensation and OSHA

 

The workers’ compensation program and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are two completely separate entities, and OSHA does not pay rewards for reporting safety violations.  Likewise, filing a complaint with OSHA does not preclude an employee from filing a workers’ compensation claim if they have been injured at a job due to their employer’s violation of OSHA regulations.

 

However, the courts have made an exemption that allows an employee who has been injured in an incident that is connected to an OSHA violation to pursue a third-party claim against the employer.  This third-party claim is separate from any workers’ compensation claim the employee may file.  Third-party claims have a high burden of proof, and can be difficult to pursue, but they tend to provide higher levels of compensation (intentional negligence) than just a workers’ compensation claim.

 

An employer defending a third-party claim has several reasons that they can use to disprove intentional negligence, including:

 

  • They were selling the business, and negotiating with the buyers for who would be responsible for taking any corrective measures.
  • The corrective action was the duty of the business’ landlord and not that of the employer.
  • The business did not have the funds to correct the OSHA violation that led to the employee’s injury.

 

When an employee receives a settlement from a third-party claim they must reimburse the workers’ compensation system for any benefits that they have been paid for an injury, after which the employee retains whatever funds are remaining.  This will usually include the total amount of wages they lost due to their injury, awards for pain and suffering, and any punitive damages that were awarded against their company.

 

Retain A Workers’ Compensation Attorney

 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and workers’ compensation are two unrelated government divisions, but both provide avenues for protecting workers from on the job injuries.  Workers’ compensation is a complicated area of law, and if you have been injured on the job it is in your best interests to retain an experienced Tampa workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve.

Let our Tampa personal injury attorneys get started on your claim.

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