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Citations for exposing workers to potential workplace injuries

Workers are often exposed to obvious safety hazards that are disregarded by their employers. Georgia workers may find some comfort in knowing that the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is always on the lookout for situations in which workers are at risk of suffering workplace injuries. OSHA aims to prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths by not waiting for workplace accidents to happen before inspections are carried out.

When OSHA inspectors drove by a restaurant under construction in Lilburn in 2014, they noticed various unsafe practices related to the scaffolding and flooring at the work site. This was followed up with an investigation that led to significant penalties for five contractors involved in the project. OSHA found that the contractors were behind schedule, and this caused them to compromise worker safety in favor of speedy completion of the project.

Violations included not providing ladders; rather, workers were ordered to climb the insecure frame of the scaffold with sparse planking. The gaps exposed workers at lower levels to falling tools and materials. Scaffold planks were not placed according to safety standards, and workers were standing on stacked blocks on the poorly erected scaffold to increase their reach. A contractor doing tile work on the patio failed to establish a safety plan for electrical hazards and respiratory risks.

Some of these contractors were classified as severe violators after several previous citations while others were inspected for the first time. No reason could justify exposing workers to workplace injuries or fatalities. It is important for Georgia workers to be informed of their basic rights in relation to workplace injuries. This includes benefits for medical treatment and lost income. The workers' compensation process involves complex administrative and judicial hearings, and many workers utilize the services of experienced workers' compensation attorneys to provide guidance and ongoing support.

Source: workerscompensation.com, "Workers Found on Unsafe Scaffolding at Fast Food Restaurant in Georgia", May 6, 2015

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