In 2012, a blast occurred at Environmental Enterprises, which is a hazardous waste management system in the Spring Grove Village area. The fire sent an 18-year-old boy to the hospital with his safety goggles melted into his eyes and 90 percent of his body blackened with burns. He died not long after.
His father could only hold the worker’s foot as he died, as that was the only part of his body left unburnt. The worker’s family received no damages from the company, even though reports from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) show the supervisor specifically instructed the young worker to use a portable electric filter to process oxidizing oxygen filters contaminated with sodium chlorite, which are combustible. The electric filter caused the series of blasts and engulfed the room in flames. However, the company owes the family of this worker nothing because of an Ohio law that specifically protects employers from liability in this type of case where a supervisor caused the accident.
What is Employer Intentional Tort Law?
In Ohio, there is a law commonly referred to as “employer intentional tort law,” which states that an employer must act with deliberate intent to cause a worker injury, disease, condition or death. Under this law, it is nearly impossible for families who have lost loved ones in a workplace accident
to receive workers' compensation for damages. Essentially, you have to be able to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the employer acted just barely short of murdering the worker.
This particular law introduced in 2005 by 18 senators, one of whom considers himself “an architect of Ohio tort reform,” according to his website. Supposedly, the law was created for rare cases so that companies would be able to easily grasp how to gauge annual legal costs. It was found to be constitutional in 2010 when it was determined that workers who are injured in a workplace accident may receive workers’ compensation, except when a willful intent to injure exists.
This means, when a supervisor instructs a worker to perform an unsafe duty or puts the worker in an unsafe position, it is nearly impossible for the worker or the family of that worker to receive workers’ compensation. This law protects companies and causes more harm to workers and families who are already hurting.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC is a workers’ compensation law firm that fights for workers injured in a workplace accident in the Zanesville, Columbus, Newark, Shadyside areas of Ohio.