What are the most frequently violated workplace safety standards?
Arizona employers have a legal responsibility to maintain safe conditions for their workers.
Unfortunately, there are some occasions where a worker gets injured while on the job due to the employer’s failure to maintain a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has compiled a list of the most common work safety violations.
If you have been injured in the workplace, you may be legally entitled to receive compensation to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. Here a few of the most common workplace injuries that occur due to health and safety violations in the workplace.
Lack of protection from falls
Construction work-related falls are among the most common causes of severe workplace injuries and deaths. To maintain a safe environment for construction workers, employers have a legal duty to take measures to prevent their workers from falling off of elevated work stations and overhead platforms. Employers must also set up the workplace to prevent workers from falling into openings in the ground and walls.
Approximately 7,720 falls occur each year as a result of workplace safety violations.
Examples of reasonable safeguards employers can take to prevent falls include installing railings and toeboards around dangerous areas such as elevated surfaces, openings in the floor, heavy machinery and vats of chemicals.
You deserve to be safe, and the law says your employer must take steps to prevent falls.
Here are 3 things your employer should have done to protect you:
- Proper training. They should have trained you on safety equipment and how to spot hazards, especially when working high up. Lack of training can lead to disastrous outcomes. Did they give you this training?
- Safe work environment. They should have checked and fixed any broken equipment or unsafe areas, like shaky scaffolding or bad ladders. Did you ever report any dangers before your accident?
- Open communication. You should have felt comfortable telling them about any safety concerns without getting in trouble. Did you feel like you could speak up about dangers before you got hurt?
If you were injured in a fall on a construction site and you think your employer didn’t do enough to keep you safe, you may have legal options. Talk to our workers’ compensation attorneys to learn more.
Failure to communicate chemical hazards
To keep employees safe in environments that involve the use or presence of chemicals, employers must communicate the hazard to their employees. Arizona worker rights laws require employers to inform workers by making information available to them that identifies the hazardous chemicals and explains the related risks.
State law requires chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate hazards that are associated with the chemicals they import or produce. Chemical companies must also produce labels and data sheets to convey information about hazards to their customers.
Customers of chemical manufacturers and importers often employ Arizona workers. These companies are required to share hazardous chemical labels and data sheets with their workers and train their workers on how to handle the chemicals appropriately and safely.
In the context of janitorial or cleaning services, where workers are frequently exposed to a variety of cleaning agents and chemicals, the importance of this communication cannot be overstated. Severe burns, respiratory issues, and other serious health conditions can result from mishandling or accidental exposure to these substances.
Here’s what your employer should have done to protect you:
- Proper training. They should have shown you how to handle chemicals safely, not just tell you. Did they explain how to store, use, and get rid of cleaning products without getting hurt?
- Easy reporting. You should have been able to tell them about any spills, exposure, or injuries right away, without fear. Did you feel comfortable speaking up about chemical dangers before you got hurt?
- Safety equipment. They should have provided you with gloves, masks and other gear to keep you safe from burns and fumes. Did you have the right equipment to handle all the chemicals you used?
- Quick response. They should have had first aid for burns and exposure, easy access to emergency exits and wash stations, and regular health checkups to watch for problems. Was all that ready before your accident?
If you were injured by cleaning chemicals at work and you think your employer didn’t do enough to keep you safe, you may have legal options.
Failure to follow scaffolding safety guidelines
OSHA provides guidelines for employers to follow in order to provide safe scaffolding when necessary. Each year, there are approximately 3,300 scaffolding accidents that occur due to work safety violations.
Arizona workplace safety laws require each scaffold and scaffolding component to be capable of supporting its own weight in addition to at least 4 times the intended load. Therefore, if scaffolding falls and injures a worker, the employer will likely be at fault (if the scaffold collapsed due to an excessive weight load).
Failure to control hazardous energy
Hazardous energy includes chemical, thermal, electric, hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical or other energy sources in equipment and machines that can injure a worker. Machines sometimes unexpectedly start-up or release stored energy and injure a worker while servicing or performing maintenance on the machine.
Examples of hazardous energy injuries include an electric shock-related injury while repairing the machine’s wiring, a steam valve automatically powering on and burning a worker or a conveyor belt restarting and injuring a worker while the worker attempts to clear a jam in the system.
To prevent these injuries, employers are required to implement and train their workers on following proper lockout/tagout practices to avoid the release of hazardous energy.
Lack of respiratory protection
Respirators protect workers from airborne contaminants and environments in which there is not enough oxygen. Respiratory hazards in the workplace may cause lung impairment, cancer, other diseases and death. OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard has the potential to save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of respiratory injuries each year if employers maintain full compliance with the guidelines.
Unfortunately, workers sometimes do their jobs in conditions that are unsafe for their respiratory systems, and their employers do not supply OSHA-mandated respirators. If you are experiencing respiratory or breathing difficulty, and you believe your workplace may have contributed to your condition, contact an Arizona workplace safety lawyer immediately to receive a free case evaluation.
Blocked safety exits – A fatal oversight
Your workplace emergency exit shouldn’t be a dead end.
Imagine a fire. Smoke fills the air. Panic rising. You just need to get out.
Now imagine if the “exit” door is locked, blocked by boxes, or leads nowhere. That’s not just scary, it’s deadly. Every worker deserves a safe escape route, and blocked exits are putting lives at risk.
News stories are filled with tragedies where blocked exits turn emergencies into disasters. Workers are trapped, hurt, and even killed.
Don’t become another statistic. Demand your employer keeps exits clear and accessible.
- No boxes blocking the way.
- Doors that open easily, without keys.
- Clear signs showing the way out.
- Regular drills so you know what to do.
Your employer has a legal and moral duty to keep you safe. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Report any blocked exits or safety concerns. Your life could depend on it.
In the news:
Weapons manufacturer in Meza fined for safety violations
leading to fatal tragedy
Nammo Defense Systems, a military weapons manufacturer in Mesa, AZ, is facing worker safety violations after a fatal explosion claimed the life of 22-year-old employee Jake Tilly on March 23, 2023.
Tilly died while handling a batch of explosive materials at the facility. The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) investigation revealed that Tilly was working with previously scrapped explosive materials and was using hand tools when the mixture ignited.
The inspection highlighted the company’s failure to adequately train employees on safety protocols and conduct necessary pre-startup safety reviews, also noting a blocked exit door.
Nammo was issued six safety citations and fines totaling $84,821, the maximum for those citations.
While fines may appease regulations, can they ever truly compensate a family for the gaping hole left by their son, brother, or friend? Jake Tilly’s story isn’t a closed chapter; it’s a call to action, demanding better oversight, and an unwavering commitment to the safety of every worker, in every industry.
It’s time we remember that some losses are truly beyond compensation, and true justice lies not in fines, but in ensuring such tragedies never happen again.
Faulty equipment: A critical hazard leading to serious injuries
Whether it’s machinery in a manufacturing plant, electrical appliances in an office, or tools in a construction site, the proper functioning of equipment is crucial for the safety and well-being of workers.
When equipment malfunctions, the consequences can be dire. Workers may suffer from cuts, burns, electrocution, or get caught in moving parts. These incidents not only cause physical harm but can also lead to psychological trauma and prolonged absence from work, affecting livelihoods and overall quality of life.
The employer must ensure that all equipment is in good working order and is regularly inspected and maintained. This includes:
- Routine inspections and maintenance. Regular checks to identify wear and tear, defects, or the need for repairs are essential. Preventive maintenance can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.
- Adequate training. Workers should receive thorough training on the proper use of equipment, including understanding the risks involved and the measures to take in case of malfunction.
- Immediate reporting and action on faults. A clear protocol should be in place for workers to report any issues with equipment. Moreover, there should be a swift response to address these reports, ensuring that no faulty equipment is in use.
- Replacement of outdated or worn-out equipment. Regularly updating equipment and not pushing it beyond its operational lifespan is crucial. Using outdated or worn-out equipment can be a recipe for disaster.
Remember, the cost of maintaining and replacing equipment pales in comparison to the price paid in human lives and suffering due to accidents.
Were you injured by a saw or other sharp equipment at work in Arizona? Learn about your rights to workers’ comp benefits.
Noise and visual hazards
Working hard shouldn’t mean losing your sight or hearing. But for many people, it does. Loud noises, bad lighting, and dangerous chemicals can take their toll, stealing your ability to see clearly, hear conversations, and enjoy the world around you.
It does not have to be this way.
Your employer is responsible for keeping you safe, including protecting your senses. They should be doing things like:
- Checking noise levels and providing ear protection for loud jobs.
- Making sure there’s enough light and reducing glare.
- Giving you breaks and setting up your workspace to avoid eye strain.
- Paying for regular eye and hearing exams.
- Helping you adjust your workload if you have any hearing or vision loss.
If you’ve lost your hearing or vision because of your job, you’re not alone. You may have legal rights to compensation and help getting back on your feet.
Talk to a lawyer who specializes in workplace injuries. They can help you understand your options and fight for what you deserve.
Wet flooring and slippery surfaces
Wet flooring is not just a minor inconvenience; it’s a major hazard, particularly in fast-paced environments like restaurants and bars where slip and fall incidents are common. These accidents can lead to serious injuries, including fractures, concussions, or even long-term disabilities. Addressing this issue is not only about compliance with safety regulations but also about creating a secure and efficient work environment.
- Prompt spill management. Staff should be trained to address spills immediately. Clearly marked signage should be used to indicate wet floors to both employees and patrons, reducing the risk of slip-and-fall accidents.
- Appropriate footwear. Employers can mandate or provide slip-resistant shoes for staff, significantly reducing the likelihood of falls. This simple step can be crucial in maintaining a safe working environment.
- Regular floor maintenance. Regular cleaning and maintenance of floors are essential. However, it’s equally important to choose cleaning agents and waxes that do not leave a slippery residue, thereby reducing the risk of falls.
- Adequate floor mats. Placing anti-slip mats in high-risk areas, such as near sinks, dishwashers, and beverage dispensing areas, can absorb excess moisture and provide additional traction for employees moving through these areas.
- Effective training and awareness. Regular training sessions should be conducted to educate staff about the risks of wet floors and the importance of proper cleaning techniques and immediate spill management.
Encouraging a culture of safety and prompt reporting of potential hazards can significantly reduce accident rates.
ADOSH mandates that all work-related fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations, and eye losses be reported promptly — fatalities within 8 hours and other severe incidents within 24 hours. These critical reports trigger immediate inspections, reflecting the agency’s commitment to responding swiftly to serious workplace accidents.
When to contact an Arizona workers’ rights lawyer
If you are injured, one of your first calls should be to an experienced workplace accident attorney. Workers who sustain a work-related injury or illness are generally eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
However, if your employer contributed to your injury due to health and safety violations in the workplace, you may be able to receive compensation in civil court.