If you’ve ever wished that you were the boss because you think it’s so easy to sit in a comfy reclining chair in your own office, playing Angry Birds while telling everyone what to do and just raking in the money, think again. Employers have to pay special attention to regulations, reports and more importantly, they are responsible for the health and well-being of all of their employees. That means if any harm should come to you while you are on the job, they are likely to be responsible.
Regardless of the size or how many employees are working for a company, it must comply to the safety regulations that have been outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is the branch of the government that deals with enforcing health and safety laws within the workplace.
In the case of a Sevenson Environmental lawsuit, which was settled last year, the land and water remediation company was faced with charges of endangering the captain of a truckable tugboat. The Tennessee captain was assigned to work on a fly ash recovery and removal project when he checked on the tugboat’s engine and realized the ladder for descending to the lower level was compromised by Sevenson. The captain of the tugboat slipped on the treadless ladder that had hydraulic oil on the steps. He fell down the ladder, hitting his head, arm, back and hip on the way down. The accident rendered him disabled and the plaintiff won under terms of the Jones Act, which states that an employer must provide a vessel that is reasonably safe.
According to a spokesperson from Sevenson Environmental, the captain was awarded a reasonable compensation and that Sevenson has a goal of on having zero-incidents for every project that they organize. Their OSHA compliant program is comprised of:
- Medical monitoring of employees who are involved in waste remediation.
- In-house training that is designed to meet OSHA requirements.
- Defined responsibilities for onsite safety personnel
- Site Specific health and safety plans
- Jobsite audits to comply with associated rules and regulations.
Recently, a lawsuit, Bautista vs. Cal-OSHA, was brought against the California division of OSHA for failing to enforce regulations protecting outdoor workers in California. The plaintiffs of the case were farm workers and family members of farm workers who had died as a result of the poor working conditions they experienced. The main plaintiff of the lawsuit, Margarita Alvarez Bautista, filed the suit on behalf of her mother, who died four years ago while picking grapes. Since 2005, Cal-OSHA has failed to enforce the regulation that workers must be provided shade, water and rest, and as a result, 28 farm workers died from heat-related illness.
Since the recent case being brought to light, Cal-OSHA is investigating more cases of heat-related regulations in workplaces and attempting to enforce these regulations to protect outdoor workers.
A former employee of a Fukushima nuclear power plant, known as Shinichi, filed a lawsuit against TEPCO, claiming that the company did not adhere to regulations when directing employees to enter potentially harmful, radioactive work areas, without proper protection. The man alleges that TEPCO sent workers into an area that was flooded with radioactive water and did so knowing of the dangerous consequences. Shinichi filed a claim with the Japanese labor office to seek higher safety standards.
Martin Valdez A vegan environmentalist who loves crossword puzzles and Tetris, Martin would like to one day create a video game that is both entertaining and educational about how to protect our planet.