The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) covers medical expenses and wage benefits for workers injured on the job. Typically, workers’ compensation benefits do not involve determinations of fault. One exception is a violation(s) of a specific safety requirement (VSSRs). When an employer fails to comply with specific safety requirements for their industry or business type, the injured worker may be able to collect additional compensation on top of their claim allowance.
Provided below, is an overview of VSSR awards and when you may be eligible to collect them.
What is a VSSR award?
Employers have a responsibility to provide and maintain a safe workplace. Some workplaces, however, are more dangerous than others, such as in manufacturing or construction. Certain industries are regulated under the Ohio Administrative Code’s safety codes, or other statutory or regulatory guidance. If an employer violates a statute or regulation, and a worker is harmed as a result, VSSR awards act as a penalty against the employer.
VSSR awards are additional compensation above and beyond medical expenses and wage benefits. However, the burden of proof is on the worker. The worker must show that the employer violated a statute. Injured workers have one year to file a claim from the date of the injury. After a claim has been filed, the BWC’s safety violations investigation unit will investigate the matter, and hold a hearing to determine whether the employee is eligible for a VSSR award.
If the award is granted, the worker may receive an additional percentage—between 15 and 50 percent—of their maximum weekly compensation for their injuries. For example, if you receive a 25 percent VSSR award and your maximum weekly compensation is $800, you would receive an additional $200 each week.
When are employees eligible for a VSSR award?
To collect a VSSR award, employees must show three things: the safety requirement was specific and applicable to the workplace (often defined under the Administrative Code), the employer did not meet that safety requirement when the accident occurred, and the failure to comply was the proximate cause of the on-the-job injury.
This can be proved through documentation, witness testimony and other evidence. Because the process can be complex, it’s important to work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney long before the one-year time limit is up.
If you’ve been injured on the job and believe your employer violated VSSRs, call Dworken & Bernstein today. We can help you navigate the workers’ compensation process and collect the benefits to which you are entitled.