Occupational hazards and collateral damage have started being taken as a way of life, a part of the routine. They are no longer an anomaly but neither are lawsuits and wailing family members of injured employees. Do we really want our workplace, our industrial scenario to look like this? I can almost hear the answer from each one of you. Why then this callousness in part of supervisors, why this exploitative mentality among employers? Things need to change.
Besides, if employers believe that a company can keep functioning or a business can keep making profits with injured and unsatisfied workers and unsafe working conditions, they are hugely mistaken. The Occupational Safety and Health Act states that legal responsibility for identifying and correcting health and safety hazards lie with all those involved in the workplace. This includes employers, contractors, supervisors, suppliers and employees themselves. However, in most cases the employer is much more informed and aware of the health and safety hazards existing in the workplace than the employees and hence the onus falls on the employer to keep the workplace conditions safe and secure for workers.
There are significant reasons why an employer must take care of the safety of his employees at the workplace.
Less Expenditure of Time and Money on Worker’s Compensation and Medical Issues
Labor laws are functional and powerful in the country. If your worker gets hurt in your premises, you are liable to pay the medical expenses incurred. If the worker was in no way responsible and the result of the accident is a permanent disfigurement, injury or paralysis in the worker’s body, you will have to bear long-term expenses as well as pay for the loss of wages, the emotional and physical pain suffered and may even have to pay punitive damages. All this will depend on the terms and conditions of the settlement. As an employer if you do not agree to all that an injured worker is asking, you stand to fight it out in a court of law. Lawsuits can be expensive and time-consuming and you may end up shelling out a lot of money as well as losing a working hand.
An Environment of Distrust and Hostility
While initially it might be just you who is aware of the dangers the workplace holds. However, if you do not install the required safety measures soon, sooner or later it will come in the notice of others as well. When this happens and you are still delaying in taking concrete steps to make the workplace secure, not only do you stand at risk of facing legal action but there will also be an environment of hostility and distrust between you and your employees. This can never be good for the growth and development of any company.
Once the fact that the employer does not care gets entrenched in the minds of the employees it is very difficult to erase it off. They will never give their 100 percent then and always look at you with doubt and suspicion and challenge all your decisions. I am not saying that all employers deliberately keep workplace conditions unsafe, but even if unintentionally this has happened it is your primary responsibility to take immediate steps to change the situation.
A safe workplace yields many benefits in the long term. While some contractor or supervisor might be offering you a better deal on machines or electrical fittings at present, if you just see the present monetary benefit without doing a thorough check on the past history and background of your suppliers, the chances are you will soon have to incur much higher expenses in wear and tear of the machines and giving worker’s compensation and medical benefits. On the other hand paying specific attention to the quality and safety standards of the machines and equipments and installing all other safety auxiliaries at one go will reap long term benefits. Less wear and tear of machines and happier and efficient workers lead to progress and development of an organization.
A Fair Supervisor is a Must
In bigger organizations, direct communication between employees and the employer is rare and difficult. Placing a supervisor to take care of the safety standards at work not only helps you as an employer to have regular updates about what is happening at the workplace but also enables your employees to communicate their needs and wants to you without delay. On the other hand if ever there is an employee fraud or false worker’s compensation case against you by a worker, you can have the eye-witness account of somebody to understand the actual situation at the workplace and what exactly happened on the day of the so-called accident. This helps you to prepare a stronger defense when charged with false accusations.
Of course you are running a business not charity. Your main motive is profit. But what is your business, your goal, your industry without your workers? Can you achieve anything without manpower? The very crux of any occupation is labor no matter how machine- intensive it is. You need men to run those machines, to produce those commodities, to deliver those services. And the very fact that you have hired these men to do jobs for you makes you morally responsible for their welfare. Paying them salary is not enough, you have not bought them, you are just paying for the services they are delivering to you and you have every moral obligation to provide them with a safe and secure environment to work. No matter how profitable a proposition looks to you, if it compromises the safety of your workers, it is not worth it.
Always remember a good employer is a good human being first. And professionally or personally a good human being always fares better.
Keith Killian is one of the principal attorneys at Killian Davis Richter & Mayle, PC, based in Grand Junction, Colorado. The firm exclusively focuses on personal injury, wrongful death, workers compensation and many more. Keith takes enough time to understand and analyze each and every aspect of his clients’ case. And eventually, his team works together to achieve the best possible outcome.