Workplace Health Issues: What Legal Actions Can You Take?

Workplace injuries/fatalities have become commonplace in the United States. Experts estimate that around 340 million occupational accidents occur in the country, and some 160 million workers suffer from work-related illnesses each year. Specific industries – such as logging, roofing, and construction – have more injuries/fatalities than any other field of work. While many employees assume that they are safe as long as they’re not working with chemicals, explosives, or heavy machinery, that isn’t the case. Occupational hazards can arise from various other areas, activities, or materials. So, you must understand how to take legal actions properly against an employer who risks workers’ safety.

Workplace Hazards You Should Know About

Whether you’re working from your desk or in the mines, workplace hazards can always threaten your safety and well-being. OSHA estimates that 15 American employees die from workplace accidents daily. Fortunately, many workplace injuries are avoidable by taking proper safety measures against them. So, well-informed employees can prevent themselves and their colleagues from getting into accidents when they are aware of these problems. Here, we’ll discuss some common workplace hazards and accidents:

1. Asbestos:

According to OSHA, around 500,000 employees work with asbestos-related products today. Asbestos exposure may cause several diseases ranging from asbestosis to mesothelioma. It’s vital to look out for asbestos at your workplace and learn about mesothelioma treatment options available nowadays. Although it’s a life-threatening disease, surgery and radiation can alleviate suffering. You can also take legal actions against the employer for asbestos exposure.

2. Electrical Hazards:

In many workplaces, faulty wiring becomes a danger to the workforce’s safety. A worker improperly using extension cables can also risk the safety of others. Similarly, an employee trying to combine different extension cables may create an electrical hazard. Thus, we suggest you replace damaged wires and ensure that every piece of electrical equipment works fine. Hire an electrician to keep the office wiring up-to-date and prevent accidents in the office.

3. Chemical Hazards:

Various industries utilize chemical and other hazardous synthetic toxins in their manufacturing process. For this purpose, they carry out extensive training to ensure every worker knows how to work with these harmful materials. Therefore, as an employer, train your workers about the chemicals being used, their storage, and other necessities. Also, keep the office ventilated and ask people working with dangerous substances to wear PPE properly. While masks and gloves can prevent injuries, allow only authorized personnel to work with the chemicals.

4. Back Injuries:

Workplace Health Issues: What Legal Actions Can You Take?

A report by BLS states that over a million workers in the country suffer from back pain each year. Moreover, every fifth workplace injury has something to do with back pain. How can employees avoid back injuries? They should avoid sitting/standing for a long time. Instead, a worker must switch their posture after some time. Employees should be trained to maintain the position correctly. They must also learn about lifting heavy objects carefully to avoid other complications.

5. Workplace Violence:

Many American employees – such as those working in healthcare – suffer from cases of workplace violence. In 2018, workplace assaults caused some 20,000 injuries while 450+ people died in these incidents. It’s crucial to formulate a policy to prevent violence at your workplace. Workers must be trained to handle such conditions and deal with an emergency at the workplace. Likewise, managers must prioritize the well-being of their workers during such cases.

6. Ergonomics:

Overexertion happens due to repetitive movements or when you move suddenly. Its symptoms include nausea and dizziness. Therefore, employees should remain cautious while lifting, pulling, and carrying heavy objects. Moreover, avoid working under high temperatures. Workers can prevent ergonomic workplace injuries by exercising more often and doing simple stretches at work.

7. Slips And Falls:

Interestingly, CDC estimates that 27% of nonfatal workplace injuries are caused by people tripping, slipping, or falling from heights. So, employees should remain cautious about floors and hallways that are wet and slippery. Although employers can lessen the chances of slips and falls by placing warning signs, workers should also be cautious. For instance, they should check the stability of a ladder before climbing it. These few precautions can prevent several people from getting hurt.

Taking Actions And Reporting Workplace Hazards

Workplace Health Issues: What Legal Actions Can You Take?

An active worker shouldn’t hesitate to take action against a negligent employer who doesn’t care about workers’ safety. Hazard reporting will also protect others from falling victims to a workplace incident. Every worker has the right to either file a health and safety complaint against their employer or silently submit a whistleblower complaint. What’s the required procedure?

  1. Know your rights: Understand that it’s illegal for an employer to fire someone for reporting an office hazard. The government protects you from employer retaliation. So, suppose you think that your employer has retaliated in any manner. In that case, you can file a report 30 days after that incident. This retaliation occurs by the whistleblower being fired, demoted, or transferred. Moreover, you can request an OSHA inspection of the workplace and speak to the OSHA inspector about the violations.
  2. File a complaint: Nowadays, you can file a health & safety complaint to inform OSHA about the office hazards online. Likewise, you can fax/mail/email about the workplace hazard, call your local OSHA office, or visit the office physically. You can also learn about the legal actions you can take to claim monetary reimbursement for some injuries.
  3. Bring a lawsuit: Many workers who suffer from injuries at the workplace have brought lawsuits against their employers. We have examples of asbestos-exposed employees developing cancer after several decades or consumers being exposed to asbestos after using the asbestos-containing product made by a company. Fortunately, you can contact expert lawyers/attorneys to strengthen your case. If the company’s products have caused you harm, you’re eligible to claim compensation.

Conclusion

We’ve discussed how workplace hazards have become commonplace in the United States today. Even if your work doesn’t require you to work with chemicals/explosives, you’re still vulnerable to various problems. These range from back pain, fall, fatigue, and workplace violence, to name a few. Many employees get injured just by slipping, tripping, and falling. Nowadays, workplaces are rampant with electrical/chemical hazards that endanger workers’ health and safety. However, you can always take legal actions against employers to claim compensation for a work-related injury (such as getting mesothelioma). And since OSHA laws protect you from retaliating employers, you can file a complaint about OSHA violations in your workplace.

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