December 06, 2021

Blog Thumbnail: Houston Injury & Accidents

Under the OSHA law, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace, and this includes providing safety training.

Workplace accidents and illnesses are a cause of serious injuries and deaths, and employers have a responsibility to do everything possible to prevent them. Part of this responsibility is to identify potential dangers in the workplace and provide proper safety training for employees who encounter them.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) covers most private sector employers and employees in all 50 states, including Texas, either directly through federal OSHA regulations or through an OSHA-approved state plan. According to OSHA, contractors and employers must 1- ensure that working conditions are free of known dangers and dangers that should be known, 2- provide training to workers about job hazards in languages they understand, and 3- supply personal protective equipment (PPE) at no cost to workers.

Still, workplace accidents are a common occurrence. If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a work-related accident due to a lack of safety training or other negligence, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your losses.

If your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance coverage, that insurance should pay benefits for your lost income and medical costs, based on factors such as the severity and permanence of your injuries. However, in Texas, employers are generally not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer does not carry workers’ comp or if you are not covered for reasons such as being an independent contractor, you may be able to bring a lawsuit for benefits that are greater than what workers’ compensation provides. In some situations, a lawsuit may be brought against parties other than your employer who bear some liability for the injury.

Texas laws are complicated and making mistakes can be costly. Employers and their insurance companies wish to pay as little as possible. They have high-powered attorneys who use tactics such as denying your claim or getting you to settle for less than it is worth.

Fortunately, there is help available from the Texas work injury lawyers at the Waldman Legal Group. We know the law and the tactics employers and insurance companies use, and we are fully prepared to fight for the full benefits you deserve.

We offer a free consultation to examine the individual circumstances of your case and determine the best way to proceed.

Call us today at (713) 688-4878 for your free, no-obligation case evaluation.

Who is Responsible for Providing Safety Training at Work?

Employers are required to provide required training according to OSHA standards.

Texas does not have its own occupational safety and health regulatory program, so federal rules govern workplace safety and health in private sector workplaces. As a result, OSHA administers and enforces workplace safety and health standards in the private sector, including safety training. The Texas Department of State and Health Services (DSHS) administers the hazard communication program for public sector workplaces, such as government operations, offices, and public schools, and the Texas Department of Agriculture and DSHS enforce farmworker health and safety rules. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) administers workers’ compensation requirements for accident prevention plans (APPs) for certain employers with high-hazard workplaces that are insured under workers’ compensation.

Even small companies are required to provide basic OSHA safety training and adhere to OSHA standard requirements. Each OSHA standard has a corresponding training requirement. For example, employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must develop and implement a written hazard communication program and train employees on the hazards they are exposed to and proper precautions to take, and a copy of safety data sheets must be readily available. Other topics that may require training under OSHA include:

  • use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • hazardous materials
  • health and environmental control and noise exposure
  • electrical safety
  • materials handling and storage
  • machinery and machine guarding
  • safety in confined spaces
  • emergency response and fire protection.

Not all employees need to be trained on all topics, but they must be trained on the topics that impact their scope of work. Training should be done by an experienced and qualified trainer who has the necessary technical knowledge and expertise in the field. Training sessions on each topic typically take a minimum of 30 minutes, and most take 45 to 60 minutes or longer.

Is it the Employer’s Responsibility to Provide Safety Training?

No federal training regulation applies to all employers, but specific laws and agency regulations may apply to specific industries or employers, depending on what hazards workers are exposed to. For example, there are training requirements for some public-sector employees, occupations considered safety-sensitive (OSHA), or positions involving the safety of the public, such as through the Department of Transportation.

OSHA has broad and general regulations that most businesses must follow, as well as more detailed standards for specific and high-hazard industries, such as construction. Employers should assess their own training obligations and get legal guidance to determine what employment-related training is required to create a fair, safe, and respectful environment for all employees.

Employers can hire outside agencies for safety training, or they can take advantage of OSHA safety training courses, many of which are available online. Some employers make the mistake of believing that occasional (weekly or monthly) 15-minute training sessions meet all OSHA safety training requirements, but they do not and therefore should not be considered a substitute for those requirements.

OSHA levies heavy fines for not following the standards presented in American Safety Council’s OSHA courses. If employees are injured due to a lack of safety training, they may be entitled to compensation.

Recovering Damages After a Work Site Accident

If you are an employee and suffer injuries from work-related injuries or illnesses due to a lack of safety training or other employer negligence, workers’ compensation laws come into play in determining what you can recover. If your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you generally will not be able to sue for damages but will have to turn to workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost income.

If your employer does not subscribe to workers’ comp or you are an independent contractor, you may be entitled to bring a lawsuit for damages. A successful Texas personal injury lawsuit can bring benefits that go beyond those of workers’ compensation and may include:

  • Compensation for pain and suffering and mental anguish, and
  • Punitive damages, for situations where a defendant acted with extreme recklessness.

Workers’ compensation law and procedures and personal injury lawsuits can be complex, and there are Texas time limits that apply, so it makes sense to consult an attorney as soon as possible after a work-related injury.

Having an attorney on your side from the start can help prevent making costly mistakes. Your attorney can help by:

  • Investigating your accident, acquiring evidence, and interviewing witnesses to back up your claim
  • Make sure all paperwork is filed properly and in a timely manner
  • Negotiating with insurance companies and their lawyers on your behalf
  • Filing a lawsuit, if you can go beyond workers’ comp
  • Handling any denials and appeals
  • Taking your case to court if necessary.

Don’t delay. Contact Waldman Legal Group today if you have been injured on the job. Call (713) 688-4878.