In Texas, a violation of a law that is designed to protect a specific class of people is negligence per se–which means negligence as a matter of law. So it stands to reason that an employer should be considered negligent as a matter of law for violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act (O.S.H.A) in the work place, right? Wrong.
O.S.H.A. is a regulatory statute. O.S.H.A. does not create a separate civil action for individual workers who have been injured on the job. As a result, Texas Courts have held that an O.S.H.A. violation does not equal negligence per se.
Instead, victims of a work injury in Texas where there is no worker’s compensation coverage (non-subscriber cases) must prove that the employer owed the employee a duty and breached that duty resulting in injuries. It is up to the individual courts to decide on a case-by-case basis whether they will allow evidence of the O.S.H.A. rules to even come into evidence as evidence of the proper standard of care. Typically, if the rules are allowed in, an O.S.H.A. expert must offer them as a guideline of what the proper standard of care requires. Thus, an O.S.H.A. violation does not make your employer liable automatically.