When there is a workplace accident in South Carolina, state and federal authorities are typically quick to descend upon the accident scene to conduct an investigation. Inspectors with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will attempt to uncover the cause or causes of the workplace accident for two reasons: (1) to determine whether one or more companies or individuals deserve to be sanctioned or penalized for disregarding well-established safety principles, such as not providing fall-arrest equipment to employees working at heights; and/or (2) to provide safety updates and improved guidelines to other employers to prevent similar accidents from recurring.
Those injured in workplace accidents may have an interest or need in obtaining the results of any inspection or report that an OSHA inspector conducts, but how can the injured worker go about obtaining this information?
Why a Worker May Need a Workplace Inspection Report
Workers’ compensation laws do not typically permit an injured worker to bring suit against their employer. The workers’ compensation system is set up so as to give workers injured in workplace accidents benefits quickly, regardless of the circumstances that led to their injury. In return, workers generally give up their right to pursue a private action against the employer. There are, however, limited exceptions. If the employer is found to have acted in a willful or wanton manner, then a private lawsuit against the employer may be able to be maintained.
Proving that an employer acted willfully in causing an employee’s injury is not always easy. One of the more effective ways of so indicating willful conduct is to show that the employer had a previous history of safety violations that resulted in the same type of injuries suffered by the injured worker. For example, an employer who has had several employees injured or killed because the employees were not provided fall arrest safety systems may be found to have acted with willfulness if another worker is injured because the employer failed to provide him with a fall arrest system. Willful and wanton conduct can serve as a means of circumventing the limitations imposed by the workers’ compensation system.
How to Look for OSHA Records
To ascertain whether your employer may have acted willfully or wantonly, your attorney will contact the South Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration and request copies of incident reports, investigations, and/or citations. Your attorney will include in the request the employer’s name and address, and the time frame in which the agency is supposed to look for violations or citations.
Contact the law firm of David R. Price, Jr., P.A. for experienced and knowledgeable workers’ compensation legal guidance in Greenville regarding your rights when your employer appears to have acted deliberately or with great indifference and you were injured as a result. Our firm can help you ascertain whether the workers’ compensation system or a civil suit is the appropriate vehicle to help you recover for your work-related injury. Call our firm or contact us online right away to learn how we can help you.