Safety rules are supposed to protect all of us.
Employers who carelessly or recklessly violate safety rules, causing injury to employees and harming families are held accountable.
Under Ohio law, if a work injury is caused by the Employer's violation of an Industrial Commission specific safety requirement, the Employer is penalized by having the Injured Workers' compensation - past, present, and future - permanently increased.
This sounds fair - in theory - as these safety rules are intended to protect you, your family, your friends, and your community from unsafe employer misconduct. However, as noted below, the reach and scope of these safety requirements leaves many of us unprotected.
The Ohio Industrial Commission safety code was promulgated in the 1970s and has not been meaningfully updated since. Nearly all of the technological changes of the past 30+ years are not addressed in the Commission's in-house safety code.
Consider the stories of 2 of our clients.
While the names of our clients have been changed to protect their privacy, the facts as set forth are true.
William worked as a roofer.
The Employer did not provide safety lines and harnesses. William slipped and fell from the roof. He was paralyzed from the waist down.
Through our efforts, William's claim was allowed, with significant medical bills paid, and the Commission further determined that William was permanently and totally disabled from all future work activity.
Also through our efforts, the Commission determined that the employer's violation of the Commission's in-house safety requirement to provide safety lines and harnesses was violated and increased William's past, present, and future compensation by 50%.
Providing safety gear has always been an employer responsibility.
Robert worked as cleaner at a factory.
One night, as he was cleaning around a computerized robotic packing line, a motion sensor for a dormant robotic arm detected his movements and -- without warning -- activated the robotic arm and pinned him against the packing conveyor, paralyzing him from the waist down.
Like William, through our efforts Robert was determined to be permanently and totally disabled.
However, despite the Employer receiving numerous Federal OSHA citations for failing to properly lock out and tag out the machine that caused Robert's injuries, the Commission ruled that the Employer did not violate any of the Commission's own out-of-date 1970s era "lock out/tag out" safety requirements.
Robert was denied the same additional benefits that were awarded to William.
THE END RESULT
The law should protect you, your family, your friends, and your community equally. Yet, when the issue is worker and workplace safety, the law is not applied the same for all of us.
Both William and Robert suffered substantially similar and equally debilitating permanent injuries due to the safety rules not being followed by their Employers. Both men are now confined to wheelchairs for the rest of their lives. However, Robert was denied the compensation he deserves because his Employer "only" violated Federal OSHA regulations and did not violate the antiquated in-house Ohio Industrial Commission safety requirements.
The Ohio Industrial Commission needs to ensure that its in-house safety rules are technologically current and protect all of us from employer shortcuts, carelessness, and wanton misconduct.
Better still, the Ohio Industrial Commission needs to eliminate its own out-of-date in-house safety rules and adopt the Federal OSHA standards.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK:
If you have been hurt on the job or have any questions, then our web site has many answers that can help answer your questions. You can visit us at www.yrmlaw.com or you can call us today at 513-721-1200 and speak directly with Martin Young or Steve Mazzei.
We look forward to your response.