What you can do about unsafe working conditions in North Carolina
You have a reasonable expectation that you will receive proper training and safety gear in the workplace. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employees be provided with the necessary safety gear as well as training available in a language they can understand. When such materials and training are not provided, employees face the risk of occupational injury.
In the event of a workplace injury, employees may be able to file for workers’ compensation benefits. Through this insurance, employees are able to receive damages for medical-related expenses as well as lost wages if they are not able to return to work.
Employer responsibilities in the workplace
Employers have certain responsibilities under OSHA. For instance, they’re required to provide equipment that has been properly serviced along with a warning system to alert employees to the presence of any hazards.
Additionally, employers are sometimes required to hang OSHA posters in the workplace in prominent locations where employees are likely to see them. They also must maintain incident records and inspect the workplace on a frequent basis to ensure they are in compliance with all OSHA regulations.
Examples of unsafe working conditions include flooring with water, slippery substances or debris that might present a hazard. Additionally, safety exits that are blocked and poorly maintained equipment are also dangerous.
The lack of a warning system or a malfunctioning warning system would also be considered an unsafe working condition, as well as anything unsanitary, such as the presence of asbestos in the workplace.
How to report unsafe working conditions
How can you report an unsafe work condition to your employer or OSHA?
Under no circumstances should an employee be afraid to report the presence of unsafe working conditions. You may choose to report the issue to your supervisor. If so, you should make certain they document the report.
In some cases, employees may have concerns about reporting unsafe working conditions directly to their employer. For instance, you might be worried about losing your job in retaliation. When this is the case, the employee may file an anonymous complaint by contacting OSHA directly.
Once OSHA receives the report, they will then investigate the claim. If it’s found that there are unsafe working conditions, the employer will be ordered to rectify the situation. In the event they fail to remedy the situation, they may be fined.
What rights do North Carolina workers have regarding unsafe working conditions?
When there are unsafe working conditions and an employee is injured as a result, questions naturally arise. You may be wondering:
Can I sue my employer for unsafe working conditions?
Provided that the injury sustained was the result of conditions in the workplace, most employees in North Carolina are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits cover lost wages as well as medical treatment associated with the injury or illness.
In the event the employee is unable to return to work due to their occupational injury or illness, workers’ compensation may allow for temporary total disability or even permanent disability benefits.
In some instances, the employee may be able to sue their employer for additional damages, though this is rare. This is only allowed if the employer’s behavior is considered grossly negligent or malicious. Cases of gross negligence may involve unsafe working conditions or could involve a lack of proper training. In situations when an employee was intentionally injured by an employer, they should waste no time speaking to an attorney regarding their ability to sue their employer.
Injured workers who are able to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer may be able to receive further damages, including compensation for pain and suffering.
Additionally, in situations where the employer is shown to have demonstrated extreme negligence, the employee may also be awarded punitive damages. These damages are used by courts to punish defendants or make an example of them to discourage similar future actions. Punitive damages in such cases are rare, but they are occasionally awarded.
If you have been injured on the job as a result of dangerous or unsafe working conditions, it’s important to speak with an attorney who has extensive experience in handling both workers’ compensation cases and general injury cases. Your attorney will work to prove that your working conditions were unsafe and that those conditions directly led to your injury or illness. They should then serve as your legal advocate and fight to protect your rights by helping you obtain fair compensation.