A Violation of a Specific Safety Requirement, or “VSSR” Award, is an Additional Award for an Injured Worker, or an Injured Worker’s Dependent, if the Employer’s Failure to Comply with a Specific Safety Requirement Resulted in the Work Injury.
A common example of this is a roofing company not providing fall gear to employees which results in an injury to an employee or a company not providing proper respiratory equipment which results in an employee suffering an occupational illness. These are just a few examples of the types of VSSR matters Dworken & Bernstein has successfully handled.
A VSSR award is a penalty to the employer and as such, there is a high burden on the employee to show that a violation occurred. All reasonable doubts in interpretation of the specific safety requirements are resolved in the employer’s favor. However, a consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand the law and whether your injury and work environment could meet the requirements of a successful application. More often than not, your employer will have an attorney reviewing the matter, and so you should as well.
Ohio law requires employers to provide a safe work environment for employees and also requires , that employees properly use any safety equipment provided by the employer. Not all unsafe work environments rise to the level of a VSSR award, however. To meet the standard, the employment activity must fall within the scope of the safety codes provided by the laws of Ohio, which are found in the Ohio Administrative Code. These laws are very specific to each work environment and a Dworken & Bernstein workers’ compensation attorney can review these and determine whether your situation applies.
If an injured worker alleges that the employer’s failure to follow a safety code resulted in injury, an investigation is done by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Safety Violations Investigation Unit. The investigator is impartial and gathers evidence; they do not make a decision as to whether there is an award. After the investigation is complete, all materials are submitted to the Industrial Commission of Ohio, which then schedules a hearing on the matter.
As a practical matter, in most cases, the parties discuss settlement of the VSSR prior to a workers’ compensation hearing. The value of a successful VSSR varies based upon the number of weeks of compensation paid out in a claim. A Dworken & Bernstein attorney can review your injury and explain to you how the award is calculated and whether a VSSR would mean a significant award for you based upon your claim history.
If you think that your employer may have violated a safety requirement and it resulted in a work injury, contact Dworken & Bernstein today at (440) 946-7656 for a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.