Worker’s protection under Indiana OSHA rules and regulations

A lot of discussion has gone into the “Right to Work” bill that is currently before the Indiana Legislature. At Young and Young, as Indiana serious injury lawyers representing seriously injured Hoosier works all over the State of Indiana from our Indianapolis offices, we are focused on the issue of worker safety. As you may or may not know, Hoosier workers are protected by Indiana Occupation Safety and Health Administration rules and regulations administered by the Indiana Department of Labor.  The State of Indiana adopted the federal rules and regulations which are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations, most specifically Section 29.  I am posting a link to those regulations for your review. http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owasrch.search_form?p_doc_type=standards&p_toc_level=0).  The Safety and Health Regulations for Construction are found at 29 C.F.R. 1926.

 The OSHA rules and regulations are the minimum standards that must be employed for safety at a construction site. There is nothing to prevent an employer from requiring more safety on the job site although they rarely do so.  We see quite a bit of lip service from employers about their compliance with OSHA rules and regulations, and yet construction site accidents continue to occur with alarming frequency.  Despite the employers claims that safety is their main concern, we regularly find employers which place untrained, or more frequently under trained, personnel in charge of safety.  Often times these same folks have a number of other responsibilities on the work site, leaving them little time for safety enforcement.  This is unfortunate because it is themselves they are hurting.  Mom was right an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Construction site Injuries are usually severe where falls from heights, injuries from moving machinery and falling objects can cause serious injuries such as spinal cord injury (paralysis), brain injury and even wrongful death. The impact on the families of these workers is pretty obvious.  However what is not so obvious is the cost to the employer.  When these accidents occur, generally work comes to a halt.  An investigation must be performed and reports filed.  OSHA inspectors may investigate and cause further shut downs or interruptions in the work.  The worker must be cared for and or replaced.  All of this costs the employer a great deal more in money and man hours than is justified by taking short cuts with safety and saving a few bucks in so doing.

Although it was not a construction site injury, it was an injury that compliance with OSHA rules and regulations would have prevented. In October, 2010, Declan Sullivan was filming the Notre Dame football team for the university.  He was assigned to use a “scissors lift” so he could film the team from over head.  Scissors lifts are prone to be unsteady in high winds due to their design and thus, rules and regulations are in place to prevent their use in certain windy conditions.  Notre Dame ignored these rules and Declan Sullivan died a wrongful death.  Our sympathies go out to Mr. Sullivan’s family.  If the University would have followed the rules, Mr. Sullivan probably would be filming spring practice now; the University would not have to pay the $77,500.00 fine imposed by the Indiana Department of Labor; and no other legal proceedings would be necessary.

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