Does Anyone Care Whether I Have a Safe Place to Work?
Yes, actually, someone does care.
Ohio employers are required to provide a safe workplace and comply with the specific safety requirements set forth in the Ohio Administrative Code. If you believe your injury is due to the employer’s failure to comply with a specific safety requirement set forth in the Ohio Administrative Code, you may apply for a VSSR Award—an additional award over and above what the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will pay in indemnity benefits.
Here is an example of such a claim:
An iron worker is injured during the construction of a bridge. He was attempting to weld while standing on a concrete bridge pier. The pier was approximately 25 ½ feet high, 3 feet wide and 25 feet long. A chain-linked fence was strung between the bridge piers to serve as a catch for debris and as a safety net. The fencing was level with the concrete pier upon which the iron worker was standing. Unfortunately, the fencing extended to only about 6 inches to one foot from the edge of the pier.
On the day of his injury, the worker had to use a two-by-four board to pry up a bearing. While doing so, the board broke, causing him to lose his balance and fall through the gap between the pier and fencing, resulting in his falling more than 25 to the ground.
This firm filed an application for a VSSR award. We cited several rule violations, including those pertaining to an employer’s use of safety nets, which if they had been put in place, could have prevented this accident. The Industrial Commission’s staff hearing officer granted the application, finding that the gap between the pier and fencing constituted a violation of the safety regulations. He further found that the use of personal protective equipment was deemed impractical, thereby requiring the use of safety nets.
The employer filed an appeal to the Industrial Commission’s decision to the Court of Appeals. We successfully defended the application. The Appeals Court affirmed the Commission’s finding of a safety violation.
So if you’re wondering if anyone cares, well, we do!