Holding Employers Fully Liable for Injuries Sustained in the Workplace

Private and government employers in the United States are mandated to provide for their employees a safe and healthy work environment to significantly reduce, if not totally eliminate, occurrences of accidents in the workplace. This mandate is issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), a federal law that was enacted by the US Congress in 1970. This Act requires the assurance of a safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by;

In 1971, OSH Act gave birth to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is tasked to fully and strictly implement all the safety standards mandated by the Act, such as a workplace free from mechanical dangers, heat or cold stress, exposure to toxic chemicals, poisonous gases, radiation, unsanitary conditions, excessive level of noise, and other hazards.

Another mandate that the OSHA enforces is the Hazard Communication Standard or HCS. This federal mandate, which was passed into law in 1980 and which took effect in 1986, gives those exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace the right to be informed about any type of danger they may be exposed to and how they can protect themselves from these dangers. In addition, the HCS, otherwise called the Right-to-Know Law or the Worker Right-to-Know Legislation requires manufacturers and importers to attach Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and warning labels on their hazardous products. Besides showing on the product label whether a chemical is poisonous or hazardous, there should also be information on the product’s potential effects to health, precautions for use, safe storage suggestions,emergency first aid instructions, and contact numbers (of manufacturers) for further information.

Since different types of work environment require a unique set of safety measures, employers should take full responsibility in implementing these necessary measures to prevent accidents from occurring. Risk assessment, provision of the necessary protective equipment, safety training, and installation of safety barriers are just few of the precautions that can be observed in work premises in anticipation of potential problems. Though OSHA maintains that accidents can be prevented, this can only be possible if owners of firms and their managers observe government safety standards, and the employees follow company safety rules.

According to Ritter & Associates, accidents due to violations of safety code and/or failure to provide adequate safety equipment can render employers fully liable for whatever injuries their employees may sustain. While, under normal circumstances, occupational injuries would not entitle one to pursue legal action and would instead be governed by workers’ compensation law, if the injury is the result of demonstrable, egregious negligence on the part of one’s employer, a civil lawsuit may be the appropriate response.

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Tackling Silicosis

There are certain jobs that are inherently dangerous such as construction and mining, but this is mostly because they are physically demanding work in unstable surroundings. Safety measures are in place to prevent injuries from obvious things such as falls from height, electrocution, and falling objects. However, one of the most pervasive dangers to certain workers is toxic exposure.

According to the website of Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A., silicosis is one of the most common types of occupational diseases and develops from breathing in crystalline silica dust. Silica is abundantly found in sand, rocks, and ore-bearing material. It develops in workers in abrasives and glass manufacturing, mining, quarrying, road and building construction, sand blasting, and stone cutting that are constantly exposed to silica dust. The silica dust gets into the lungs, causing it to become inflamed and develop nodular lesions. Symptoms include a chronic cough, fever, shortness of breath, and bluish skin from inadequate blood oxygenation (cyanosis). It is often mistaken for pulmonary edema or pneumonia.

It is possible to develop silicosis within a short period (one year) with intense exposure to very large amounts of silica dust. However, silicosis typically develops over many years of exposure to silica dust, up to 20 years in occupations where the silica dust is at low levels. It is common in developing countries but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it is relatively rare in the US because of safety regulations imposed for those in at-risk occupations. It is estimated that less than 60,000 workers with silica exposure will develop silicosis.

However, many workers that do succumb to silicosis work for employers that fail to follow simple safety regulations pertaining to silica exposure. This is not only a violation of safety standards but a breach of their duty to ensure the reasonable safety of workers, and may be considered gross negligence.

If you developed occupational silicosis, you may be eligible to seek compensation from your employer. Find a competent toxic exposure lawyer in your area and have your case assessed.

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The Effects of Truck Accidents

Truckers have it hard; being on the road all the time, working long hours, and being away from family. A lot of things call for compromise when you choose to be a truck driver, although the payout is enough to compensate for it. Truckers carry heavy loads from one point to another, more often covering long distances in order to deliver an order. The demand for delivery and long working hours is among the main reasons why there are truck accidents in many of the roads in the U.S.

When a truck driver gets involved in a collision or accident while on the job, their injuries are covered by worker’s compensation regardless of where the accident had taken place. Since the majority of these truck accidents happen away from the employer’s main office, it would help to have legal representation, such as Williams Kherkher who has represented many victims in these types of accidents, to assist in filing for worker’s compensation. The long distances can be a hindrance in acquiring the necessary financial aid to cover for the medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and other damages.

Aside from the worker’s compensation, a truck driver can also file for a claim versus the other driver or insurance company for physical and emotional pain and suffering. This can be pursued if the accident was caused by the other driver’s negligence or recklessness, and particularly if the accident resulted in a permanent disability. When it comes to personal injury claims against a third party, it is necessary to prove that negligence is the cause of the accident and injury; on the other hand, worker’s compensation can be given even if the accident was caused by you.

For those who choose to claim both worker’s compensation and personal injury – it should be noted that these two have different time requirement for filing. Worker’s compensation should be file immediately (within a matter of days), otherwise the employer may have a defense against providing for your claim. Likewise, personal injury claims can be filed for up to five years (depending on which state), and when evidence of a permanent disability are really apparent.

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