When a workplace is unsafe, there is a greater than average risk for injuries to occur in the workplace. There are certain rules that employers must follow to protect their employees. There are both federal rules for workplace safety and California State rules that employers in the state of California must follow.
If you have suffered a work-related injury and you have questions regarding a potential workplace safety violation or filing a workers’ compensation claim, contact our California workers’ compensation attorneys at Kneisler and Schondel. The attorneys at Kneisler and Schondel have many years of experience handling many different types of workers’ compensation cases, some of which have involved workplace safety violations. Our attorneys can help you understand your legal options and how to move forward with your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an attorney from our office to begin pursuing your case.
What is Considered a Workplace Safety Violation?
The State of California, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (known as Cal/OSHA) is an agency that investigates workplace safety violations. Under California law, an employer must have an affective injury and illness prevention program. This program must include training and instruction for employees on safe work practices. There must also be an effective system for your employer to use to communicate with you and your other coworkers. It is important to participate in the safety training program that is provided by your employer so that you can recognize health and safety hazards and be able to point out any hazards or safety concerns that you discover while performing your job.
The things that may be considered workplace safety violations vary with what industry or type of job you are performing, but generally, anything that could cause serious injury or illness or serious physical harm to a worker could fall into the category of a workplace safety violation. For example, faulty brakes on a forklift or company vehicle could lead to a serious injury, and therefore if it is brought to the attention of the employer and not fixed, a workplace safety violation may be found. The California Labor Code also gives Cal/OSHA the authority to issue citations for workplace violations that are not as serious, for example, a regulatory violation or a general violation.
Penalties for Companies that Commit Workplace Safety Violations
Cal/OSHA takes workplace safety violations very seriously. If the agency conducts an investigation and concludes that a workplace safety violation has occurred in your workplace, your employer may face significant fines. For example, if your employer has been found to have committed a general violation, they may have to pay a fine of up to $12,726 per violation. For serious violations, the fine may be up to $25,000. Owners, managers, and supervisors may also be subject to criminal penalties, fines or even imprisonment, depending on the nature of the violation.
Reporting a Workplace Safety Violation
Though your employer may face fines or other penalties, it is important to report a workplace safety violation. You may be saving yourself or other employees from getting seriously injured. To report a violation, you can file a complaint with Cal/OSHA. Your employer will not be told by Cal/OSHA who filed the complaint.
After receiving your complaint, the agency will investigate the alleged violation. If you have identified yourself when filing your complaint, Cal/OSHA will notify you with the results of the investigation. If Cal/OSHA has found no violation has occurred, after you receive notice of the results, you can request a review of the decision.
Workplace Safety Violations and Workers’ Compensation
Workplace safety violations are often connected to workers’ compensation claims. Unfortunately, a workplace safety violation may not be immediately apparent until a workplace accident occurs. Cal/OSHA will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of a workplace accident that results in a fatal injury, a serious injury or illness, or a serious exposure. The agency will also investigate the cause of a workplace accident that results in the inpatient hospitalization of three or more employees.
Because workplace safety violations often result in injury, workers’ compensation claims may go hand-in-hand with these violations. If you have suffered a work-related accident or illness for any reason, contact our attorneys at Kneisler and Schondel today. We can review the facts of your case and help you file your workers’ compensation claim and help you with every stage of the process. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation to discuss your potential case.