~by Brooke Chaplan~
Health and safety procedures are not only necessary for the well-being of both staff and employer, but observing and enforcing them is the law. It’s important for business owners to practice because it can seriously impact profitability. It’s vital that employees follow all safety procedures for their own well-being and continued employment. Safety first in the workplace should be a primary concern for everyone on the premises.
Hazards to Health and Safety
A hazard is any material or condition that could be potentially damaging to health or cause injury. This includes equipment, chemicals, debris, and fire and electrical hazards, but also threats to health such as unsanitary conditions, lack of clean water, disease, pollutants, or airborne particles that can lead to disease. All substances deemed a chemical or health hazard must be properly stored, and safety procedures, such as wearing eye protection or gloves, followed at all times. There should also be resources in place for responding to emergencies, such as showers, eyewash stations and fire extinguishers. Most companies also provide training in safety procedures and proper emergency response to their employees. Different industries might also use gas monitors and similar devices to ensure safe working conditions.
Most employers will carry workers’ compensation coverage as part of their insurance plans. Those that don’t may face heavy fines or lawsuits. Many companies will also carry some form of liability insurance as well. Employee protection statutes vary from state to state, and in some cases it can be hard to sue for injuries sustained on the job. But where an employer can be proven to be negligent or reckless, heavy damages have been awarded the injured employee. This can include lost wages, medical bills, and compensation for pain and suffering.
Employees should be aware that insurance companies are also in the business of making money and are more apt to fight claims or offer low out-of-court settlements than to pay off. This creates an adversarial situation that often calls for the services of a local Personal Injury Attorney. Getting injured, whether on the job, in public, or at home through someone else’s actions or property, can entitle you to monetary recovery. For example, an accident attorney Las Vegas can obtain personal injury compensation for injuries ruining an otherwise perfect vacation.
Enforcing Health and Safety Guidelines
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created to monitor and enforce laws regarding workplace safety. It’s something that they and everyone else need to take seriously; according to OSHA, 4,821 workers were killed on the job in 2014 alone. OSHA is responsible for administering occupational safety. OSHA auditors will visit companies at random to assess their safety procedures. Violations can result in fines and penalties until the unsafe conditions are corrected. OSHA also investigates all accidents that take place. Repeated injuries or failure to comply with guidelines can create legal troubles for violating employers and can damage public reputations.
Personal injuries can affect businesses financially in other important ways. Loss of a worker for even a limited time will hurt productivity on the job. In the event a new worker is needed for replacement, the costs of a new employee can be thousands of dollars in recruiting, hiring and training. Organizations that don’t correct unsafe conditions will also create resentment and dissatisfaction among employees, which reduces their enthusiasm and performance.
Unsafe conditions or injuries can be a serious problem for both employer and employee. It’s important that companies take the necessary steps and comply with all regulations. Without fair treatment, employees may have no recourse except to hire a personal injury lawyer.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. Contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.