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If you’re an employee of any private company in Missouri, you are granted legal protections from unsafe work environments by both the Missouri Department of Labor and the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). When employers don’t follow the requirements laid out by both of these organizations, they may pose a significant risk to the safety of their employees. After suffering an injury at work, it’s critical to assess whether or not your workplace constitutes an unsafe work environment, which may have led to your injuries.

What is Considered “Unsafe”?

Employers have a duty under OSHA regulations to ensure that the working environment is free from any significant dangers to workers. Any hazard which impedes workers’ safety may be considered a violation in an OSHA investigation. Common examples of unsafe working environments include blocked fire exits, unsanitary conditions, and improper handling of hazardous materials. A crucial and often overlooked requirement of employers is to maintain equipment to prevent failures that may lead to injury. If the type of work requires safety equipment, the business is required to supply the equipment necessary to safely work, and ensure that it is maintained. 

What are the Penalties to an Employer?

OSHA takes workplace safety very seriously, which can be seen in the extensive employer requirements. When an employer is found to have an unsafe work environment, OSHA levies significant fines to discourage employers from allowing this risk to continue. In recent years, the organization has increased its fines significantly to almost $13,000 per violation. After an investigation, if the employer is found not to have corrected the conditions that led to their violation, they face another fine of the same amount for each day that they failed to correct the violation. For “willful or repeated” violations, the fine is significantly higher – ten times as much, up to nearly $130,000. Alongside these fines, a business may also face significantly more liability for worker’s injuries should they occur.

According to OSHA statutes, anyone can report what they believe to be an unsafe work environment to the organization which will result in an investigation and potential action taken against the employer if they are found to be complacent in creating an unsafe work environment.