Am I Working in an Unsafe Environment?

Austin Injury Attorneys Help Injured Workers

The case of West Star Transportation Inc. v. Charles Robison et al. has come to a close after a Texas appellate court reaffirmed the plaintiff’s $5.3 million liability judgment against his employer, a workers’ compensation nonsubscriber.

Robison worked for the Lubbock, Texas-based West Star Transportation, Inc. until April 2007 when he suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling from a precarious perch atop an unevenly loaded trailer. At the time, the employer had no workers’ comp insurance. The company tried to settle the case, but Robison pursued legal action and a jury found the company negligent to the tune of $5.3 million in damages. The money is meant to cover past and future medical care, physical pain, mental anguish, loss of consortium for Robison’s wife and lost earning capacity.

The courts ruled that the company was negligent because the job Robison was performing when injured was uncharacteristic of his normal work, and the company failed to provide safety equipment to protect him from injury. In fact, the company did not even own the required safety equipment.

Your Rights Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) requires employers to provide a workplace devoid of known hazards to employees. The courts found that West Star Transportation, Inc. failed in its obligation, causing Robison irreversible damage. Robison’s story is not unique to his company – workers are injured on the job every day, and many of these injuries could be avoided if employers exercised their due diligence in ensuring employee protection.

The OSH Act provides workers with several rights. As a worker, you have the right to:

  • Ask the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to conduct an inspection of an employee’s workplace
  • Use the provided rights without risk of retaliation or discrimination
  • Information and training about common hazards, injury-prevention methods and OSHA standards that apply to the employee’s workplace
  • Obtain documentation of OSHA’s inspection results
  • Obtain employer records of work-related injuries
  • Obtain copies of employer medical records

Is My Workplace Safe?

OSHA allows employers to research their employer’s inspection history using its Establishment Search resource. By providing the name of a company and dates that the worker finds relevant, OSHA can provide the employee with detailed records of a company’s inspections and any violations the administration discovered.

To find out about commonly cited hazards within specific industries, an employee must know his or her company’s Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code. This code grants an employee access to the previous year’s citation statistics, which can be used to figure out what dangers the employee should be aware of in his or her line of work. Because OSHA has different standards for construction work, agriculture, maritime operations and general industry, this resource is useful in determining hazards specific to different occupations.

What Should I Do About Unsafe Working Conditions?

Staying informed about your employer’s legal need to provide for employee safety can help keep both you and your coworkers healthy and safe. If you notice unsafe working conditions, do not hesitate to contact OSHA.

If you were injured at work, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you figure out your best options. In Texas, many employers opt out of covering workers’ compensation, which gives you additional avenues for seeking damages.