Ohio employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace for their employees. What happens if they fail in their duties, and a worker is injured as a result?
Ohio Revised Code Section 4121.47 covers specific safety requirement violations. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) takes this obligation very seriously. If you’re injured as a result of a violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR), you may be eligible for an additional benefit. This benefit comes out of the employer’s pocket, rather than their workers’ compensation insurance.
What is a VSSR?
Every industry and workplace has different safety requirements and standards, depending on their unique hazards. While employers are bound to follow these specific safety requirements, employees are also bound to properly use safety gear and follow safety protocols.
To prevail on a VSSR claim, the worker must show:
- The safety requirement was both specific and applicable;
- The employer was not in compliance when the accident occurred, and
- The non-compliance contributed to the injury, illness, or death.
Requesting a VSSR benefit
Determining whether you’re eligible for a VSSR benefit—and proving it—can be difficult. If you believe that your employer violated a specific safety requirement, it’s important that you contact an attorney.
The burden of proof is on the injured employee. That means that you and your attorney must prove that your employer violated the safety requirements, and you were injured as a result.
Requesting a VSSR benefit requires filing an additional form, on top of your workers’ compensation claim. Your case will require an investigation to gather evidence. Once your claim and VSSR request is filed, the safety violations investigations unit (SVIU) of the BWC will notify all parties and begin the investigation.
You have one year from the date of your injury to file a claim (see Ohio H.B. 81). If your award is granted, the Ohio Industrial Commission will award you an amount between 15 to 50 percent of the maximum allowable weekly compensation rate granted to you.
If you do not prevail on your VSSR claim, don’t worry – you’re still entitled to your regular workers’ compensation benefits, should they be approved. Workers’ compensation benefits do not require the employer to be at fault in order for an employee to file a claim.
Ultimately, it’s wise to talk to an attorney before deciding to file a VSSR claim. Your lawyer can help you determine whether you have a good case and if you’re likely to win.
For help with your workers’ compensation claims, call Dworken & Bernstein today.