Workplace injuries occur every day throughout the country. For instance, recently a man suffered a significant but not life-threatening leg injury while changing out the gas tanks of a city in another state. Apparently, a steel girder tumbled and dropped onto the man's legs while he was working.
According to a police officer who was familiar with the facts, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration was planning to come to the city in order to conduct an investigation as to how this man was hurt at work. As the man was a subcontractor, it is not clear whether he will be eligible for workers' compensation benefits in his state.
Arizona readers should know the difference between an OSHA investigation and workers' compensation. In Arizona, the state agency that bears primary responsibility for investigating certain workplace accidents and ensuring that employers comply with federal safety regulations is the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
ADOSH conducts surprise inspections for a number of reasons, such as after receiving a complaint filed by a member of the public or after receiving an accident report. While ADOSH can and will fine employers which do not meet applicable safety standards, it cannot shut down a business. More importantly for injured workers, it does not compensate these workers, nor can it even determine whether a person is eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
On the other hand, even if ADOSH investigates an accident in which a worker suffers an injury and finds that the employer committed no safety violations, this does not preclude a worker from receiving workers' compensation after an on-the-job injury. In Arizona, all a worker needs to establish in order to collect benefits is that the injury occurred in connection with the performance of job duties. Arizona's workers' compensation system places the burden on Arizona employers to compensate their employees for all workplace accidents, even those rare ones that could not have been avoided.
Source: Stamford Daily Voice, "Worker injured while changing Stamford gas tanks," Anthony Buzzeo, March 14, 2013