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What does OSHA look for after an accident with heavy machinery?

Scaffolding accidents have been the topic of the last few posts in our Chambersburg personal injury law blog. We focused on an accident involving a scaffolding collapse that left three workers dead and another with serious injuries. We mentioned that inadequate education and training could make even safe devices unsafe for workers.

Education and training is an important factor in Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigations after any workplace accident involving the use of heavy or dangerous machinery and devices. It is only one factor in a myriad of potential contributors to these accidents. What else does the agency look for after a worker is injured?

OSHA investigations focus on many factors, including:

  • Education and training: Did workers have the adequate information and skills necessary to use equipment or complete job duties in a safe manner.
  • Procedure: Did the employer have proper procedures in place? Did the employer and employees follow these procedures?
  • Installation and use: Was the machinery and all devices used on the job properly installed? Did all employees use them appropriately?
  • Defects: Was the machinery or device used unsafe by design? Was there a defect in manufacturing?
  • Miscellaneous factors: Did anything else contribute to the accident? For example, when a scaffold collapses, investigators may analyze whether a fierce wind could have caused the device to shift.

Workers who are injured on the job are eligible for workers’ compensation and may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury claim. Workers’ compensation is not dependent on a finding of employer-fault or other safety violation; personal injury claims are. It is important for workers to discuss their rights and options with an attorney after an accident.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal, “Scaffolding collapse highlights risks, lack of OSHA rules,” March 29, 2013

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