Texas Worker Injured After Being Denied Safety Equipment by Employer
29 July 2015No Comments
Despite his requests for a safety harness, a temporary worker was seriously injured after falling 12 feet through a roof, without fall protection. As a result, he was hospitalized with fractured arms and severe contusions. In an investigation by the U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the employer, Cotton Commercial USA Inc. in Katy, Texas, waited three days to report the injury. Federal law requires employers to report such incidents within 24 hours.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Cotton Commercial $362,500 for seven safety violations, including one willful and four willful egregious. The violations include failing to provide fall protection for four workers, failure to promptly report the hospitalization of an employee resulting from a workplace incident, and not training employees in the use of fall protection and ladders.
Gardia Construction, which provided the laborers to Cotton Commercial, received a citation for one serious violation and a fine of $4,900, for failing to conduct frequent and regular inspections of the job site where its laborers worked. Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said, “Falls kill workers, but they are preventable.” He continued, “Cotton Commercial denied its workers the safety equipment they are required to provide, and the company intentionally waited several days to report the incident and misled OSHA’s inspectors.”
EMPLOYERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WORKERS’ SAFETY
Staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers. This includes ensuring that OSHA’s training, hazard communications and record-keeping requirements are fulfilled. And for construction workers, this responsibility includes ensuring that frequent and regular inspections of worksites are conducted.
OSHA Regional Administrator John Hermanson stated,“Cotton Commercial was well aware of how to prevent safety hazard and, in fact, on the following day Cotton made sure all workers were provided with the required safety equipment. It shouldn’t have to take a serious injury for a company to comply with the law.”
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. Cotton Commercial employs about 227 workers and operates throughout the U.S. The company provides remediation services for commercial and residential structures damaged from disasters. At the time of the accident, Texas Mutual provided company employees with workers compensation insurance. Its current provider is Affordable Insurance of Texas. Gardia Construction, located in Gretna, La., employs about 80 workers and provides labor to Cotton Commercial. Gardia does not carry workers compensation insurance. Both employers have 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Houston South area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
If you were injured in the workplace, there is a good chance that you are entitled to workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a program that provides insurance benefits to individuals who are injured while at work and shields employers from liability after workplace accidents. There are some rules on how to apply for workers’ compensation, so it’s important that you understand how the system works in order to apply correctly.