What Every Employer Must Know About Hazardous-Workplace Injuries
Thousands of employees suffer from workplace injuries every year with slips, trips, falls, contact
with machinery and overexertion from lifting being some of the leading causes. Employees who
work in hazardous environments could be exposed to radiation, poor air quality and extreme
temperatures. Employers should protect their workers from these and other hazards, and should
be aware of laws and regulations that apply to worker safety and work-related injuries.
A personal injury attorney should review your company’s policies and procedures for preventing
and responding to worker injuries to ensure they satisfy state and federal laws and regulations.
Here are five tips for employers concerned about how to protect workers from injuries,
especially when working in hazardous environments:
● Enforce use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): A company’s primary
responsibility to its workers is to provide them with PPEs, such as face protection, hard
hats, and safety shoes. Workers should also be provided with comprehensive training
about how to use their gear and the consequences of failing to follow safety protocols.
● Invest in better indoor air quality (IAQ): Poor IAQ may cause symptoms ranging from
headaches, eye irritations, and fatigue to asthma. Asbestos and radon contaminating
indoor air have been linked to the occurrence of some forms of cancer. Workers can be
protected from this environmental hazard through good building heating, ventilation, and
air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Proper storage of chemicals and other substances and
a regular review of the building’s maintenance plan are advisable as well.
● Educate workers on safe lifting techniques: Lifting heavy objects can be done safely
using proper lifting techniques. In addition to instructing employees about how to safely
lift objects, employers can protect workers by implementing work schedules that allow
for ample rest between lifting assignments.
● Eliminate or reduce vehicle-related accidents: Redesigning the workplace to eliminate or reduce the need for workers to be in the paths of moving vehicles is one way to reduce vehicle-related accidents. Speed-limit reductions and clearly marked pedestrian
walkways are two methods of making the workplace safer for pedestrian traffic.
● Be consistent with housekeeping: Slips, falls and trips can be avoided by keeping floor
areas free of debris and obstructions throughout the workday.
In addition to following these safety tips, employers in California must conspicuously post a
notice at the job site advising employees of the existence of workers’ compensation coverage.
The notice must also inform workers about the process for obtaining medical care in the event
of a work-related injury. Failure to post the notice is punishable by a civil fine of as much as
$7,000. The fine can differ in each state.
What happens when a worker is injured?
Companies operating in California with at least one employee must provide workers’
compensation coverage for injured workers. The law ensures that injured workers will have
access to medical care without the delay of having to sue their employers. Employers, on the
other hand, are protected from lawsuits filed by their workers who are injured on the job.
If a worker is injured on the job and the employer does not have insurance in place, the
employer is legally responsible. The worker may file a lawsuit against the employer for medical
care, lost wages and other damages related to the injury.
Independent contractors are not employees under California workers’ compensation law.
According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, companies using independent
contractors do not have to provide workers’ compensation coverage.
Employers need to understand their obligations
Companies subjecting their workers to hazardous environments need to take steps to ensure
employee safety and to provide a method for handling injuries that might occur. Employers and
their safety professionals should obtain advice and guidance from an attorney to ensure they
are in compliance with safety and insurance laws.
Steve has been writing legal-centric articles for several years now. He started working with the personal injury attorney law firm Herrig & Vogt in 2019 as the Content Marketing Manager, which has allowed him to expand on his writing in personal injury, family law, and much more. Steve strives to offer the public advice on various laws covering a variety of practices.