Employers are required by federal law to provide safe workplaces as defined by Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. All employers have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with health and safety rules and implement policies to ensure that workers are protected from workplace accidents and injuries.
The United States Roofing Corporation faces the maximum fine for serious violations following an OSHA investigation into potentially unsafe working conditions. The investigation began after three workers were hospitalized for treatment of heat stress. Charges in the violation include failure to establish timely break periods, lack of training for workers about the dangers and symptoms of heat stress and inadequate water consumption. According to OSHA, the workers were roofing with 425-degree tar on 105 peak heat index days.
Companies facing serious OSHA violations have three options. Employers may meet with the local OSHA director for informal talks about the violation, fight the violation formally before an independent commission, or pay the fine and comply with safety regulations. The agency makes a number of tools available to aid in compliance efforts. One tool is a mobile app for monitoring the work site heat index. Assistance is also provided to employers via a toll-free number.
Employees facing unsafe working conditions, such as falling debris, negligent operation of machinery or other safety hazards, may be able to remedy the situation with an OSHA complaint or referral. In some cases, employees may be injured by a work accident or safety hazard before being made aware of any danger. This can result in medical expenses, disability, lost wages or a forced career change. An attorney may be able to help injured employees pursue workers' compensation claims in court if a proposed settlement is not expected to cover such expenses.
Source: OSHA, "Boothwyn, Pa., roofing company cited by US Labor Department's OSHA for exposing workers to excessive heat hazards", Leni Fortson, December 17, 2013