The Occupational Health and Safety Act was enacted by Congress in 1970. Its intent was to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all employees in the country. Several states have enacted their own OSHA plans and statutes, including North Carolina.
OSHA violations are often at the center of construction site accidents that seriously injured workers. If you were injured at work, speak to a Wilmington construction litigation attorney at Rhine Law Firm, P.C. Among our legal team we have a licensed general contractor in the state of North Carolina and an authorized OSHA trainer. We have successfully handled many complex construction injury cases, and we can advise you of your best options. Please call (910) 218-9439 to schedule a consultation today.
While OSHA is a federal Act, many states adopted their own plans. North Carolina created the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina, or OSHANC. The North Carolina Department of Labor oversees compliance with OSHANC through the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health (NC OSH) Division. They hold employers responsible for the safety of all individuals on the worksite, even if they are employed by someone else. This is important on construction sites as contractors and sub-contractors are often required to perform certain duties, though they are not employed by the main employer on the site.
If an employee is injured due to dangerous work conditions or any other violation of OSHANC, he or she may file a lawsuit against the party that caused the injury.
OSHANC is virtually the same as the federal Act, but it does differ from other states. While other states operate on the legal concept of negligence per se in regards to OSHA, North Carolina does not. Negligence per se dictates that if a defendant violates any statute within the Act, they are guilty of negligence and no further proof is needed.
However, under OSHANC, proof that a violation has occurred is only part of the case. The defendant and plaintiff will be required to have their case heard before a jury, who will then decide if negligence was a factor. The defendant will only be considered guilty if the jury determines that they did not provide a reasonable standard of care to the plaintiff.
In North Carolina, contributory negligence is a major factor in personal injury claims. This legal statute dictates that if a plaintiff was partly to blame for his own injuries, even 1% at fault, he cannot receive any compensation through a lawsuit.
Contributory negligence is taken into consideration for workplace accidents even when there has been a violation. For example, if an OSHA standard is violated on a worksite and the employer pointed out the danger to workers, but one worker forgets and is injured by the violation, the defense team would argue that the victim knew about the danger, and thus was partially responsible for his own injuries and barred from recovery in a lawsuit.
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In some situations, workers’ compensation insurance will (or should) cover an injury or illness, providing for lost income and medical treatment on a temporary or permanent basis, depending on the situation. If you have a legitimate workers’ compensation claim or if you have had a claim denied, our attorneys can help you plan your next steps.
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