The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency responsible for enforcing workplace safety standards across all industries operating in the United States. OSHA is also responsible for investigating workplace safety violations, usually reported by concerned employees and their representatives. Serious workplace injuries can also generate OSHA investigations. Any employer can face severe penalties if they allow dangerous working conditions to persist or if they fail to adhere to applicable safety regulations.
If you work on a farm in California and suffer an injury, it is essential to determine how the injury occurred and whether your employer bears any fault for the incident. While you may not be able to directly sue your employer, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim to help you recover from your losses. In addition, if OSHA investigates your accident or if enough employees report workplace safety violations, your employer could face disciplinary action, including fines and compulsory changes to the work environment to address visible safety violations.
OSHA Rules for Farms in California
Almost every farm operating in California must adhere to OSHA’s workplace safety regulations for the agricultural industry:
- OSHA enforces strict regulations regarding herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals used in commercial agriculture enterprises. Any employer that fails to adhere to these standards risks not only causing devastating harm to their employers but also liability for the resulting harm and disciplinary action from OSHA.
- Agricultural operations that require the use of complex machinery and specialized vehicles must meet applicable vehicle safety, fuel, and training regulations.
- OSHA enforces strict employee training rules, and employers must ensure their workers fulfill all mandated training requirements. If an employer assigns work duties to an underqualified employee, they can face a penalty from OSHA in addition to liability for the injured worker’s damages.
- Some agricultural employers will need to meet very specific workplace safety regulations due to inherently hazardous variables facing workers in these environments. For example, some of the most dangerous industries include construction, manufacturing, refinery operations, and commercial agriculture, and OSHA enforces specific rules for each high-risk industry.
OSHA also enforces regulations that apply to all employers, such as required displays of OSHA safety rules and reporting information for employees. All employers must meet these regulations or risk fines and other disciplinary measures if violations are discovered.
What to Do After a Work-Related Injury in California
In the event you suffer a work-related injury while performing agricultural work in California, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim through your employer’s insurance carrier. A successful workers’ compensation case can provide coverage for all the medical expenses you face after the injury and the cost of the ongoing treatment you require. Additionally, if your injury has temporarily disabled you and you cannot work until you recover, your claim may yield ongoing disability benefits to help account for your lost income.
California’s workers’ compensation laws generally prevent injured workers from filing personal injury claims against their employers in response to workplace injuries. However, possible exceptions to this rule include failure to maintain appropriate insurance coverage, failure to adhere to applicable OSHA regulations, or intentionally causing the injury in any way.
If you are unsure whether any such factors have any bearing on the outcome of your case, it is essential to have legal representation you can trust to guide you through the difficult proceedings ahead of you. If you must file a report to OSHA concerning your employer’s workplace safety violation, the report must be filed in good faith, and an experienced attorney can assist you in contacting OSHA and handling any level of participation you face in their investigation.
Q: What Farms Are Exempt From OSHA Investigation in California?
A: OSHA has the right to investigate large-scale agricultural operations in California, but many small farms in the state are exempt from investigation under OSHA’s appropriations law. Any employer in the agricultural industry that does not qualify for this exemption must meet all OSHA guidelines, and violations can lead to severe penalties for the employer.
Q: What Causes OSHA to Investigate a California Farm?
A: If a farm is not exempt under OSHA’s appropriations law, they will investigate any reports of workplace safety violations and failure to meet applicable regulations filed by employees, employees’ representatives, or others. An OSHA investigation typically involves one or more physical inspections of the workplace in question and a careful review of the details of the report. Penalties for violation of OSHA regulations can lead to fines and other disciplinary actions against the employer.
Q: Can I Sue My Employer for a Farm Accident in California?
A: If you are injured while working on a farm in California, you are likely covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. However, you will be unable to file a personal injury claim against the employer in most cases. The exception would be if your employer intentionally caused your injury somehow or if they failed to maintain appropriate insurance coverage for any reason.
Q: How Much Can I Receive in Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
A: A successful workers’ compensation claim can potentially yield full coverage for all the medical expenses you face following your workplace accident, and you may also qualify for ongoing disability benefits until you are able to return to work. The amount you receive in ongoing disability benefits and the length of time you can continue receiving them depend on the severity of your condition following the incident in question.
The attorneys at English, Lloyd & Armenta have extensive professional experience handling workers’ compensation claims, including those involving OSHA violations. Depending on the nature of your work and whether your employer qualifies as an exempt small farm, OSHA may or may not be involved in the aftermath of your injury. Whatever your case entails, our team is ready to provide the legal counsel you need to approach your recovery process with confidence. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about the legal services we offer.