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  • Writer's pictureJohn Larrimer

What Qualifies as a “Serious” Safety Violation?

In late August of 2014, tragedy struck the Woods family of Garfield Heights, Ohio, when the family patriarch’s clothing caught in the moving parts of a rolling mill at his workplace, pulling him in before he could react. Though Elbert C. Woods’s coworkers managed to free him, he sustained heavy trauma and died as a result.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) subsequent investigation revealed that Woods’s death was entirely preventable, and that his employer, Cleveland Track Material, failed to provide adequate protections for their employees to ensure that such horrors did not occur. The company now faces $49,000 in proposed fines for seven serious OSHA violations.

Defining a “Serious” Violation

OSHA determines fines by the degree of negligence exercised by the company leading up to a violation. For a violation to be classified as “serious,” all that must be proven is that the company had knowledge of an issue before the violation occurred.

Even if the employer was unaware of the issue, the violation can still be categorized as “serious” if the employer could have known about the issue by exercising reasonable diligence. In the case of Woods’s death, OSHA found that the company failed to note that the machine in question had inadequate shielding to prevent workers from coming in contact with rotating parts.

If you have been injured or one of your loved ones has been killed on the job and you believe that the incident was preventable, then please contact us. We will fight to make sure that justice is served.

Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC—Columbus Workers Comp Attorneys

Did You Know?: Since 1970, workplace deaths have been cut by more than 60 percent and occupational injuries and illnesses have declined 40 percent.

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