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Beyond Workers’ Compensation

Every state in the Union requires even most small employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, which covers workplace accidents under a “no fault” system – that means that it pays out the same regardless of who if anyone is responsible for the injury. However, this doesn’t mean that employers are completely off the hook if they fail to provide a sufficiently safe work environment. An employee may be entitled to sue for additional damages if the personal injury was caused by preventable circumstances.

 

OSHA Standards


In 1970, the federal government created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which set down a series of rules and regulations regarding what constitutes a safe and healthy work environment. They include such basic concepts as putting railings on catwalks and other unsafe drops, providing free safety equipment like safety glasses and earplugs, testing the air for pollutants and other hazardous chemicals, and providing safety data sheets which explain the properties of all the potentially hazardous chemicals and materials which a company site uses on a regular basis.

If a company fails to live up to these basic safety standards, their employees have the right to request an OSHA inspection anonymously and to be protected against retaliation. They can also sue their employer for personal injuries sustained because of unsafe conditions, although filing a lawsuit is not exactly an anonymous action.

 

Workers’ Peace Of Mind


A safe and healthy workplace is not limited to physical precautions. An employee should also be confident that he or she can trust and respect his or her fellow employees. That means creating a harassment-free environment, whether that harassment is physical, verbal, or sexual in nature.

Admittedly, harassment can sometimes be hard to pin down. If a man asks a female coworker out on a date and she says no, that’s not really harassment. Even if he keeps asking her out and she keeps telling him no, it’s not necessarily harassment if the man remains respectful and the woman doesn’t tell him to stop asking. The occasional off-color joke can also be acceptable so long as everyone takes it in good humor.

Generally speaking, the point at which bad manners becomes harassment is when the subject asks the perpetrator to stop but the perpetrator does not do so. At that point, the employee should inform his or her superior about the problem, or the superior’s superior if necessary. If nothing is done after that or the employee is fired for whistleblowing, then he or she has grounds to sue the employer for emotional stress and possibly wrongful termination.

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury and you believe your employer is to blame, either because of insufficient physical security or because they failed to rein in your fellow employees, then you may be entitled to damages above and beyond workers’ compensation payments and you should consult with a lawyer who is familiar with the civil legal code in your area. If you happen to live in or near St. Petersburg, Florida, then you should contact the St. Pete Lawyer today for a free case review. Our firm will do everything we can to make sure you get the compensation you deserve..