Under Ohio Law, there are a specific set of safety requirements that employers are required to follow in order to ensure the safety of their employees. These requirements are codified under Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 4123:1. This section of the Ohio Administrative Code provides clear and distinct requirement that employers are obligated to follow. These rules are similar in nature to the rules set by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
In Ohio, if it is determined that an injured worker sustained their injuries as a result of their employer’s failure to follow the dictates of Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 4123:1, that individual can file a claim for a violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR). In order to prove a compensable VSSR Claim, the injured worker must show that 1) there was a specific safety requirement applicable to the work being done by the injured worker; 2) that the employer failed to comply with that specific safety requirement; and 3) the injury sustained was the result of the employer’s failure to comply with the specific safety requirement.
In order to fulfill the first step in proving a VSSR claim, an in depth review of applicable administrative law is required. The Ohio Administrative Code is extremely particular in what employers are required to do to protect the safety of their employees. The applicable code sections provide very detailed and specific requirements. Often times they code sections provided specific requirements for specific tools and equipment being used by an injured worker at the time of their injury. As an example, the Ohio Administrative Code provides that anytime an employee is working at an elevation of six feet or higher they must be provided some form of safety harness of lifeline lanyard.
In order to fulfill the second step, there must be a detailed analysis of the facts of the claim and how the incident occurred in order to determine if there has been a violation. In instances where there has been a failure to provide personal protective equipment, the analysis is rather simple and straight forward. However, with some of the more complicated violations the determination as to whether a violation has occurred is not so clear. Finally, the injured worker alleging the violation must show that the violation is in fact what caused the individual to sustain their injuries. Proving a violation alone does not entitle one to benefits, it must be proven that had there not been a violation the injury would not have occurred.
Once an injured worker files a claim for VSSR compensation, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation assigns an investigator to the case. The investigator will do a detailed review of the facts and circumstances surrounding the work place accident. Further, the investigator will actually visit the scene of the accident to examine any equipment being used and the area where the accident occurred. Further, the investigator will sit down with the injured worker to do a detailed interview of the injured worker. Following the interview, the injured worker and the investigator will put together a statement in which the injured worker is able to explain the events that led to their injury.
Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will put together a detailed report and present it to the Industrial Commission of Ohio which will then hold a hearing on the merits of the claim. If you feel as though you may have a VSSR claim don’t hesitate to contact the Bainbridge Firm. We can provide you all the assistance you need in order to try and prove your claim.