The main statute protecting the health and safety of workers in the workplace is the Occupational and Safety Health Act (OSHA). Unfortunately, many employers shortcut OSHA standards exposing their employees and 3rd party contractors to significant increased risk of harm and workplace injury while on the business premises.
Under OSHA, The Secretary of Labor may authorize inspections of workplaces to ensure that regulations are being followed, examine conditions about which complaints have been filed, and determine what regulations are needed. If an employer is violating a safety or health regulation a citation is issued. Yet it is not feasible or realistic to expect OSHA to have representative on a business premises at all times. Correspondingly, when the cat is away the mice will play and workers get injured.
The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 also requires covered
employers to prepare and maintain records of occupational injuries
and illnesses. This history often provides the necessary foundation establishing the basis for a claim for employment intentional tort. A prior history of repeat injuries on a work-site suggests there might be a problem. Many states generally require knowledge by the employer, to a substantial certainty that an employee is likely to be injured from the dangerous operation or procedure in the workplace. Other similar incidents suggest such knowledge. Correspondingly, OSHA records may also contain statements made by management during an inspection or investigation which suggest the intent necessary in some states to overcome the workers compensation bar to suing an employer directly.
Yet even without prior OSHA violations, where an employee can show that an employer knowingly exposed its workers to harm, a claim may exist for employment intentional tort against the employer when an injury occurs. Such conduct by an employer suggests profits over safety which should not and can not be tolerated in 2006 in the United States of America.