Tort Litigation & OSHA
April 13, 2012
OSHA standards can significantly affect litigants in work-related tort litigation. Plaintiffs generally attempt (with mixed success) to use evidence of OSHA regulations to establish the duty owed by the defendants in those cases. Courts around the country differ considerably on the admissibility of OSHA standards in personal injury cases to establish a standard of care.
Similarly, there is no unanimity concerning whether to allow evidence of OSHA violations in tort cases. Should an OSHA violation be construed as "some evidence" of negligence, "per se" evidence of negligence or not admissible at all? Although the answer depends largely on the law of the jurisdiction in which you are litigating, one thing is crystal clear–OSHA violations relevant to the tort litigation can have a big effect on the defense of the case and the litigation impact of any underlying OSHA issues must be fully analyzed.
Therefore, I owe a debt of gratitude to Eric Conn, who launched The OSHA Law Update: A Hazard Communication, and who keeps me well-informed concerning what I should be sensitive to in this regulatory arena. Eric and co-authors Amanda Strainis-Walker, Casey Cosentino, Alexis Downs and Paul Burmeister have hands-on OSHA experience at both the federal and state level and service a diverse range of industries including chemical facilities, petroleum refining, manufacturing, construction, natural gas and electrical power, health care and life sciences, and the agricultural, retail, and hospitality sectors. Their blog provides industry with what they need to know before OSHA knocks on the front door.