Reliable Oklahoma City Injury Lawyers Helping Workers Hurt because of Safety Violations
If you were hurt in the patch someone violated state or OSHA rules, we want to help
The oil and gas industry is one of the most dangerous industries there is. Every day, workers face risks from falls, from toxic fumes, and from flammable materials, not to mention being crushed or hit by objects. That is why there are very specific safety regulations in place to protect workers. If those regulations are not enforced, or if the equipment you have is defective, you could be critically injured.
At Cunningham & Mears, our Oklahoma City oil field injury attorneys are here to guide you through the process of making a claim or filing a lawsuit after you’ve been injured. We fight to ensure that your worksite is operating safely and correctly, and to secure the compensation you need to recover.
What is the role of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)?
OSHA is responsible for enforcing the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which is the law that protects workers and requires employers to provide a safe work environment. The regulations that OSHA promulgates, ensures that employers honor their legal duty to provide a safe workplace and take all necessary steps to prevent workers from getting injured while they work.
When an employer violates OSHA regulations, there are penalties. Employers are required to report serious injuries and fatalities to OSHA; they are required to document workplace injuries and fatalities and make this information available for employees; they must provide training for employees in a language they can understand; and they are required to provide personal protection equipment and train workers how to use it properly.
Example of OSHA violations that caused serious injury or death
In January of 2017, a spotter in the oil and gas industry was hit by the truck he was spotting for and was crushed to death. The OSHA inspection following the incident cited the employer, U.S. Well Services, for a serious violation of the General Duty Clause, and proposed a fine of $12,675.
In September of 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited and fined a drilling site in West Virginia for 17 new and recurring safety violations. The company, Jay-Bee Oil & Gas, Inc., had fines of $73,150 – and $61,000 of them were related to repeat offenses.
In April of 2018, OK Energy Today reviewed OSHA records for oil fields here in Oklahoma. Though our numbers overall were low, R.C. Drilling LLC – the rig operators in the May 29th fatality – were cited and fined for 18 OSHA violations relating to that incident.
No one is disputing the level of danger involved in working in the oil and gas extraction industry, but regardless of the level of dangers, workers have a right to work in a safe environment. Workers know the dangers, but when they are trained properly in how to mitigate the hazards and given appropriate personal protective equipment they can do their jobs without the need to sacrifice their safety.
What are the different types of OSHA violations?
OSHA inspectors periodically inspect business, and employees who become aware of safety violations can file a complaint to bring the hazardous condition to their attention. The following are the six categories of OSHA violations and the penalties which are either recommended or mandatory.
- De Minimis violations. Technical violation of OSHA rules that do not have an impact on health or safety. There are no fines or citations for this level of violation.
- Other-than-serious violations. This is a violation of OSHA rules that does not result in death or serious injury but is related to employee health or job safety. An OSHA inspector can levy a fine or choose to reduce the penalty.
- Serious violations. This violation is for employers who know or should have known about a situation that can cause serious injury or death, but they did nothing to remedy it. Inspectors can levy fines for each serious violation, and they can adjust the penalties based on the violation.
- Willful violations. This is the most serious category of violation and is reserved for intentional violations of OSHA rules or situations that show disregard for employee health and safety. If an employee dies, the violation can become a criminal offense and face prison time.
- Repeated violations. There is a maximum fine for repeated violations for employers who are cited for a violation and a subsequent inspection reveals another similar violation.
- Failure to Abate Prior Violation. These can accrue a daily fine until the employer remedies the situation. (Chron.com)
Filing an OSHA complaint for safety violations
If you witness an unsafe condition at work, you may file a complaint with OSHA. Some workers might feel nervous about reporting a hazardous condition to a federal authority. Before you report the condition to OSHA, inform your employer about the situation and watch to see how the condition is remedied. If it is not resolved, you can file a formal complaint with OSHA and you can do it anonymously. OSHA will open an investigation based on your complaint.
Making a claim for an injury due to unsafe workplace
Because the workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, a worker who is eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim does not need to prove that the injury was because of an OSHA violation. In some cases, if the injury was caused by a hazardous condition that violated OSHA regulations, the employee may be able to sue the employer outside of the workers’ compensation system. Whether the injured worker would be allowed to sue their employer in a personal injury lawsuit would depend on the nature of the OSHA violation and the discretion of the court.
When you work with an Oklahoma City oil field injury lawyer from Cunningham & Mears, we thoroughly investigate the incident and identify all the possible options for recovering compensation for your workplace injury. Whether your injury was because of a defective piece of equipment or machinery, or if you were hurt on someone else’s property, we can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation beyond what is available through workers’ compensation such as total wage replacement as opposed to a portion, pain and suffering and other losses.
Schedule a free consultation with a trusted oilfield accident lawyer in Oklahoma City today
At Cunningham & Mears, we are here to help after a workplace accident or occupational illness. If we are unable to represent you, we refer you to a workers’ compensation attorney who can. We invite you to meet with us and find out how we can help. Contact us or call 405-232-1212 today for a free initial consultation.