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Can My Employer Be Held Legally Responsible For Unsafe Working Conditions



Your employer can be held legally responsible for unsafe working conditions because you have a federal right to work in a safe environment.

Employers Are Legally Required To Provide Their Employees A Safe Workplace

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

    OSHA requires employers to provide a working environment that is free of known safety and health hazards. Most private employers are covered under the OSHA's laws. If you work in an industry that is OSHA-regulated, you may file a complaint with OSHA to have your workplace inspected if you think that your employer is not following OSHA regulations. If OSHA finds safety or health violations in your workplace, OSHA will cite the employer and issue fines and other penalties.

    To learn more about your employer's duties and your rights under OSHA, go to your right to a safe working environment.

  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

    Note that OSHA does not have full jurisdiction over railroad industry safety. Although there are areas of the railroad industry where OSHA does have jurisdiction, such as machine shops, the FRA governs the safety of railroad working conditions which generally do not occur in typical industrial settings.

    Throughout the year, the FRA and state inspectors conduct rail safety and hazmat compliance inspections and audits. The FRA summarizes the enforcement actions taken in an annual enforcement report. However, if you are a railroad employee engaged in traditional railroad operations and you see a workplace hazard, you can submit an "Alleged Violation Report" to the FRA. The FRA will investigate the report and respond accordingly.

    How Can You Recover Compensation For Job-Related Injuries And Occupational Diseases

  • Non-railroad workers

    In most cases, the only way to recover medical expenses and other costs related to your occupational injury or disease is through your state's worker's compensation system. Most worker's compensation laws preclude a direct personal injury lawsuit against your employer unless you can prove that your employer intended to physically harm you or somehow retaliated against you for filing a worker's compensation claim.

    It does not matter whether your employer was negligent or even grossly negligent in allowing the hazard that caused your injury to exist. Nor does it matter in most cases whether your own negligence caused your injury. If you were injured during the course and scope of your employment, your employer must pay worker's compensation benefits, and you cannot, in most circumstances, sue your employer directly.

    To learn more about worker's compensation, go to worker's compensation attorney(s).

  • Railroad workers

    Railroad workers who suffered a railroad-related injury or contracted an occupational disease may receive compensation pursuant to the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA). Unlike worker's compensation laws, the employee may sue the railroad directly, but the employee must prove that the railroad's negligence caused his injury or disease in whole or in part in order to receive compensation. Moreover, the amount of compensation can be reduced by the extent that the employee's own negligence caused the injury or disease.

    If you feel that you have a possible FELA claim, you should contact an experienced FELA attorney, preferably one who has developed good working relationships with the railroads and their attorneys. This could speed things up in getting an acceptable settlement.

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