A news release from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has alleged 21 violations of OSHA standards at the Met Weld International plant in Altamont, NY.
Met Weld could be subject to $49,210 in fines as a result of the findings from safety inspections carried out by OSHA at the plant.
Eight Serious Violations
The OSHA news release describes the most serious violations; including a cabinet for flammable liquids failing to meet fire standards, fire extinguishers that were blocked, no training for use of fire extinguisher, an augur that could restart while workers removed jams and an air compressor that lacked a carbon monoxide or high temperature alarm.
A "serious violation" is defined by OSHA as "occurring when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known." OSHA proposed $28,910 in fines for these violations alone.
The other 13 violations included 2 repeat violations and 11 other-than-serious violations. "It is imperative that the employer address these conditions promptly and take effective steps to prevent them from recurring," said Edward Jerome, OSHA's area director in Albany.
Can Be Considered "Some Evidence" Of Negligence
Fortunately there were no worker injuries attributed to these particular violations. However, if there had been injuries, the injured employees would generally not be able to sue their employers directly under New York law, but instead would have to seek workers' compensation benefits.
Yet, in other situations in which the OSHA violation was attributed to a third-party - for example if the worker is an employee of a contractor and is injured as a result of the plant owners neglect - there is recourse available under New York law know as a third-party claim.
In New York, the violation of an OSHA or other state safety regulation can be used in a lawsuit as some evidence of negligence in a third-party claim, if the violation was "a substantial factor" in causing injuries to individuals. An important question in negligence cases is foreseeability, i.e. how probable is it that someone could be injured by something.
For any of the "serious violations," OSHA has already determined that there is a "substantial probability" of death or injury by violating the standard.