Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Gelman, from Jon Gelman, LLC – Attorney at Law in New Jersey.
August and September mean more than back-to-school for many high schools and colleagues in Nebraska and Iowa. This also means the fall sports season and the start of high-risk and high-reward football, too. As more knowledge is gathered about the risks of concussion and injuries to student athletes, there is also more awareness and people working hard to lessen those risks and keep players safer.
In fact, according to a previous blog post, Nebraska – A Rare Example Of How To Treat Student Athletes Better, Nebraska actually has a system akin to workers’ compensation that is meant to protect student athletes in college who get hurt or die.
“Since 1984, Nebraska law has provided additional protection for college athletes. Our schools offer a rare exception among college athletics programs by offering students a form of workers’ compensation.
This difference is because in 1984 the Nebraska Legislature enacted a law (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 85-106.05), which mandated that the University of Nebraska establish an insurance program to provide coverage to student athletes for personal injury or death while participating in university- organized games or practice in an intercollegiate athletic event.
This law covers students in ways similar to workers’ compensation, providing medical coverage and some monetary benefit to athletes who become disabled while participating in an official collegiate game or a practice.”
Essentially, State Sen. Ernie Chambers worked hard to advocate for students, and it looks like, according to Mr. Gelman, the Riddell sports equipment company could definitely learn from our state’s protections. Although businesses should uphold safety standards as a best practice, it is reassuring that OSHA helps protect workers, often retroactively, but sometimes proactively, serving as a referee in the also high-risk and high-reward game of business.
Recently there have been many discussions and lawsuits about NFL player safety arising out of serious brain concussions from football. In a ironic turn, a company who manufactures football safety gear has itself been cited for serious safety violations at its own manufacturing facilities. The apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Riddell All-American Sports Co. with eight alleged serious violations following an investigation that began in August 2012 from a complaint for exposing workers to multiple safety and health violations at its Alamo Downs Parkway facility in San Antonio. Proposed penalties total $44,000.
The serious violations include failing to ensure electrical equipment was free from recognized hazards, provide adequate machine guarding while operating industrial sewing machines, provide a fall protection program to prevent fall hazards from the basket of a powered industrial truck and implement a respiratory program. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
“It is the employer’s responsibility to assess the hazards in the workplace and provide a safe and healthful environment for its workers,” said Kelly Knighton, OSHA’s area director in San Antonio. “In this case, it is fortunate that no one was hurt.”
Elyria, Ohio-based Riddell, which employs about 25 workers at the San Antonio site, paints helmets for various sports, such as football and hockey. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s San Antonio office or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s San Antonio office at 210-472-5040.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.