Workplace safety oversights can be expensive mistakes for employers. When an injury occurs and a claim is made, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will come down hard on an offending business if they determine it is at fault. Depending on the situation, employers may also find themselves dealing with a VSSR, another violation that can lead to additional penalties.
What Exactly is a VSSR?
As you may have guessed by the title of this post, VSSR stands for “violation of a specific safety requirement.” The list of safety requirements is outlined in the Ohio Administrative Code and are used to help determine injury claims through the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).
According to the BWC, “the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) states it is the responsibility of every employer in Ohio to provide a safe workplace and adhere to all safety rules.” If an employer is not adhering to one of the listed safety requirements, they could be hit with a VSSR. The existence of this VSSR could mean that the injured employee would be eligible for additional compensation through their BWC claim.
How Does the BWC Determine if a VSSR Occurred?
There are a few requirements that must be met before the BWC determines that an injury was the result of a VSSR. In order to collect an additional compensatory award, the injured worker must prove the following:
- That the safety requirement(s) was both specific and applicable
- That the employer was not in compliance with the safety requirement(s) when the accident occurred
- That the non-compliance with the requirement(s) directly contributed to the injury
The BWC will then turn to their safety violations investigation unit (SVIU), to proceed with the investigation. An impartial investigator will notify everyone involved in the claim and contact the separate parties. After they gather all the facts, which includes a site inspection, interviews, and related documents, the investigator will file a report with his or her findings in the BWC claim before the Industrial Commission of Ohio (IC) has a hearing on the matter.
Keep in mind that the ORC does not place all the responsibility on the employer. Workers are also expected to properly use safety equipment provided by the employer as well. If they don’t, then the BWC may not find the employer at fault for the injury.
What are the Penalties Associated with a VSSR?
If the IC deicides that an employer is at fault for a VSSR, it’s going to cost that company quite a bit. The IC will grant the injured worker an additional monetary award, which the BWC states can range anywhere “from 15 to 50 percent of the maximum allowable weekly compensation rate granted to the injured worker.”
Multiple VSSRs can also become a costly problem. If a company has been charged with two or more VSSRs within a 24-month period, the IC can impose an additional penalty of up to $50,000.
What Can My Business Do About VSSRs?
It’s important to crack down on any potential violations. Make sure that you’re adhering to safety requirements and creating a safer working environment for you and your employees.
Of course, this is easier said than done, especially if you’re not an expert on risk management and don’t have the time to become one. A Professional Employer Organization can provide your business with expert risk management services and strategies that can help you create a safer workplace and limit your risk for workers’ compensation claims. Contact us today to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you make your business a safer place.