Mark S. Granger
Mark S. Granger

  Mark S. Granger
  Admitted to Practice in MA and NY

  PO Box 487, 1094 US RT 9
  Schroon Lake, NY 12870


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I know you're sitting there wondering what can Granger be thinking? After all, this topic relates to injuries in the workplace and it was supposed to be talking about product liability? In fact, these are all related because an injury in a workplace can be a number of different kinds of problems and can cause or open you up to different types of litigation.

For instance, there is the usual Workmen's Compensation claim which arises when one of your own employees is injured in the workplace. Obviously, your level of culpability in that type of incident is going to be measured by whether you are in compliance with various standards for making your workplace safe.

The more attention you pay to statistics on workplace injuries, the more likely it is that you are to avoid paying for them More injuries and accidents avoided means less risk to you and your company. But this is not the only way that a workplace injury can create problems for you in the law.

Many state statutes, while restricting claims against employers to the Workmen's Compensation system, nonetheless allow workers to recover against their employers for willful or wanton and reckless conduct or for other types of heightened exposure to injury created by the manufacturer's workplace. A particularly egregious workplace set up, can result in punitive damages and even triple damages against the employer. This is certainly one reason why you want to know about common accidents in the workplace.

More importantly, many workplaces have third-party contractors, temporary employees, visitors or other nonemployees of the manufacturing process on the premises. These can be everything from truck drivers delivering to part-time or contract and temporarily hired employees. They are not banned from suing the owner of the of the factory, store or warehouse because of Workmen's Compensation. There can be many circumstances in which someone injured in a factory or manufacturing plant can sue the owner of or that plant or warehouse, especially if they are not in their employ. Many product manufacturers and businesses are sued this way and have been so for decades.

In another fashion your products can also be exposure to suit in a workplace setting is if there is a contractual relationship between the manufacturer of the product being used and the person being injured or his employer. There are often indemnification clauses, and other types of writings that shifts the burden or shifts the liability for use of the product, can instead create a type of action directly against an employer which is not in the normal Workmen's Compensation framework. Many renters of equipment or machinery for use in industry, have indemnification and hold harmless clauses in their leases which often snare the employer of the person that is injured. These and been in existence for many years and can really make defending a workplace injury difficult. Many large purchasers such as Amazon or Walmart have such contractual language in their contracts.

In October 2021, OSHA released preliminary data for the top 10 most-cited standards in fiscal year 2021. The data includes violations cited between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021.

The preliminary data was presented at the 2021 NSC Safety Congress and Expo by Patrick Kapust, deputy director of the Directorate of Enforcement Programs at OSHA.

The leading causes of injury and their associated OSHA standards were for fall protection. In both 20 and 21 these violations exceeded 5200 and number is included both tripping over materials and also falling from heights. Many of these included failures to properly secure railings on elevated surfaces, interestingly these are among the oldest standards for workplace safety and adding fall from a height to the risk of injury certainly enhances the seriousness of the employee injury or death.

Coming in second in the numbers and seriousness of the injuries were what is known as violations of respiratory protection. These are circumstances in which employees’ lungs and other parts of the breathing system are injured by exposure to contaminants in the workplace area or coming from materials that they are working with. Long term damage such as COPD and lung cancer, as well as black lung and other chronic injuries, from work place exposure, create extremely serious and often long-term health problems for employees once exposed.

Ladders were next on the list both in terms of inspections and in use. Instances of improper securing or possessing defective ladders were clearly the leaders on this. In addition, failure to inspect and to ensure that a ladder was in good condition and making certain that they were of the proper strength to handle their use, played a large role on these and scaffolding cases.

Making certain that the lay out and securing of the scaffolding, as well as the overall strength was appropriate will both critical in reducing the level of injuries.

Lock out, tag out procedure proper lock out/tag out procedure’s proper logout/tag out procedures for making sure that sections of machinery or other parts of equipment were properly deenergized so they would not cause injury is essential to safe operation. This is one of the oldest procedures in industrial uses, and should be followed in every instance. So are the severity of potential injuries, including becoming entrapped in equipment or being electrocuted. These are both critical for maintaining worker safety.

Complete fall protection training and construction our next on the list of causes of injuries. Not only are to rails need to be to rails need to be properly constructed and in the right locations but workers need to be instructed as to how the spaces they are working in are to be guarded. Obviously the higher the railing the more exacting are the regulations with respect to standing.

Hazard communication also plays a critical role in hazard communication also plays a critical role in preventing injury. Use of the proper symbol’s colors and diagrams, and compliance with regulations, is critical. It is a large source of violations. Warnings and instructions must be updated.

Finally hazard reduction and first-aid equipment present at the site of the work is also critical. Respirators, masks, eye protection, and other necessary and usual equipment need to be kept at the site, maintained as fully operational, and the wearing of this equipment should be enforced. While the presence of this equipment may be within most people’s knowledge, maintaining it and making sure is fully operational and wearing it are critical matters for the safety of the job site. Education in this equipment’s use and storage and maintenance are all critical to the proper functioning of the safe work site. While this may be a basic knowledge to many of your employees, making certain that all employees are aware of these requirements and can recite them is critical. You must take steps to properly educate your employees as well as their supervisors in these types of OSHA matters. A failure to comply with OSHA in the work place carries serious repercussions.

This was the most comprehensive discussion of injury against regulation that I was able to see in recent times. I will continue to keep you posted on workplace and job safety both for use with their own employees and will for others that come on to your premises. To the extent that your warnings and instructions should incorporate OSHA standards, you also need to be familiar with them.

We will continue to keep you posted on OSHA and other workplace regulations, as well as job safety types of regulations.

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