OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is charged with conducting investigations of certain workplace accidents, particularly fatal accidents. OSHA is also in charge of developing and enforcing workplace safety rules to ensure fatal accidents are much less common than they were one hundred years ago. Oftentimes, OSHA is the working man’s best defense against being forced to put his health at risk for his job.
Though OSHA investigates after accidents occur, there is also an open tip line to report unsafe practices before anyone gets hurt. Workers should be aware of their rights and their ability to report their employers for violating federal law.
However, OSHA does not always have jurisdiction over workplaces and workplace accidents. A peculiar case in Colonie, New York demonstrates the limits of this federal organization. A man was struck and killed by a piece of large equipment on April 7, 2018. But because the man was a freelancer and not employed by the company where the accident took place, OSHA lacked the authority to investigate and remediate, even though the incident could just have resulted in injury or death to someone who worked for the company.
Organizations such as OSHA are a necessity. Preventing companies from exploiting labor by putting people in danger is key. But there are limitations on everything, and sometimes there is no federal agency to address a specific problem. In those situations, sometimes the only recourse is the legal system.
If you or someone you love has suffered an on-the-job injury, reporting the incident to OSHA is often a good idea. But you need not stop there. Consider retaining an experienced attorney to evaluate your case to determine whether there are additional legal remedies available to you.