Staying safe on the job

When we’re at work, our primary focus is getting the job done. That’s what we’re paid to do, and by golly, that’s what we’re going to do to the best of our ability.

America is a country laser-focused on productivity, and that comes with both upsides and downsides. Wages haven’t really kept pace with inflation in recent years, but productivity has increased despite that. However, this focus on keeping the numbers up or hitting deadlines can bring with it some unintended side effects. Workers have a right to stay safe on the job, and if they’re injured, they generally have a right to workers compensation. The problem comes when employees don’t realize they have these rights. It’s hard to use a right if you don’t know you have it in the first place.

Getting hurt on the clock

Injuries in the workplace are distressingly common. Sure, they’re more likely to occur on sites where manual labor is involved, in careers like construction and welding. Both of those fields require employees to handle dangerous equipment in order to perform their job. However, those aren’t the only places injuries can occur. If there’s a spill in the breakroom and no one at your office put out a “Caution: Wet Floor” sign, and if you slip and break your leg, that’s also considered an on-the-job injury.

When you get hurt, a good employer will inform you of your workers’ compensation rights and urge you to get medical assistance, although not necessarily in that order. Bad employees will threaten to fire you if you leave to go get medical treatment, and they’ll tell you that you aren’t entitled to any compensation, and if you try to get it, you won’t have a job anymore. It’s easy to be intimidated in the face of such threats, but your health is more important than any job. Get help for your body first, and if you’re fired or otherwise treated unfairly during the recovery process, it’s time to think about contacting a lawyer who specializes in workers’ comp. Remember that laws vary from state to state, which makes it all the more important to find someone with knowledge of local and state laws.

Additional rights and regulations

Employment law in the United States is different than that of many other first-world countries. Most jobs are considered “at-will,” meaning you can leave the job any time, but you can also be fired anytime for almost any reason. That gives employers a lot of leeway, but it doesn’t give them the right to put their employees into unsafe positions without proper protection. There’s a reason so many construction sites require every single person to wear a helmet. Don’t forget environmental regulations, either. If a worksite is producing harmful contaminants, then there are certain regulations that govern the disposal of those contaminants. Those rules are designed to protect workers as well as members of the public.

If you feel like you’re being forced to work in unsafe conditions, you can contact your state’s labor department or OSHA, which stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The latter is a federal organization charged with enforcing health and safety regulations in workplaces. Your boss may tell you that his or her word is the final say every single time, but that’s simply not true.

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