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Beyond OSHA: Legal Problems Can Snowball

After a workplace accident, an employer or jobsite may be inspected by an officer from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Most employers wait until OSHA issues a citation for one or more violations, prepare to pay the fine and hope to return to business as usual.

Waiting is exactly what a veteran OSHA attorney will tell you that an employer should not do. When it comes to the financial and legal impact of a workplace accident, an OSHA citation is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Workplace accidents and potential hazards that lead to OSHA violations may also spur other regulatory investigations and legal problems. Retaining an experienced attorney prior to a workplace accident brings the presence of a seasoned attorney who has experience mitigating the damage of OSHA incidents. If the attorney is present as soon as an accident happens, not only will he help avoid negative publicity, but also have the opportunity to interview the witnesses while the details of the incident are still fresh in their memory.

Your attorney can also protect you by assisting in preserving critical evidence from the accident scene, attending the interview with the OSHA representative, and mitigating additional damage from other government agencies or insurance company disputes. Retaining an attorney prior to an incident allows you to have an expert working in your best interest and protecting you every step of the way.

Multiple Investigations May Ensue

When there is an accident that kills an employee or results in the hospitalization of three or more laborers, you must report the incident to OSHA within eight hours. OSHA will conduct an investigation, but that may not be the only challenge you could face.

  • If your business falls under the authority of other agencies, you may face more than one government investigation.
  • Your insurance company will also investigate. You could become involved in a dispute concerning coverage and/or exclusions from coverage.
  • Your business may receive news attention. Serious accidents often result in news coverage. Employers will need to manage their responses to news coverage carefully to avoid jeopardizing their results in investigations.

A seasoned OSHA attorney who begins working with you soon after an accident can help manage many of the consequences of an accident. The most effective response begins as soon as a serious workplace accident happens.

How an Attorney Can Help

Your lawyer can coordinate the investigations of all agencies and insurance companies. Ideally, your attorney should be onsite when inspectors are present. This will help your lawyer understand what inspectors are examining and gather evidence that can be used to provide an accurate and compelling case on your behalf. Your lawyer can also manage your company's responses for news coverage and agency press releases that involve your business.

The result can be a more controlled, carefully managed response that ensures compliance with state and federal laws while protecting your business interests. Do not delay. Your chances of mitigating the damage from a workplace incident are the greatest soon after an accident with proper assistance from an OSHA attorney.

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