Protect Yourself: Know Your Rights Under the Laws Protecting Employees Against Workplace Injuries

  • OSHA establishes guidelines for employers to ensure a safe work environment.
  • Workers’ compensation covers medical expenses and lost wages due to on-the-job injuries.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for 12 months.
  • Whistleblower protection ensures employees can report safety violations without fear of retaliation.
  • Personal injury lawsuits maybe if someone other than the employer is responsible for a workplace injury or illness.

Your health and safety are of utmost importance when you’re at work. But workplace injuries and illness can happen to anyone at any time. What do you do if you’re hurt on the job? Your employer must provide a safe working environment, but as an employee, you have rights that protect you from accidents and injuries. If you’re unfamiliar with the laws protecting you, you could miss out on essential benefits that could help you during a crisis.

Workplace Injuries in the U.S.

Injuries are common in the workplace. The U.S. Department of Labor reported 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2017 alone. That’s an average of 3 out of every 100 full-time workers injured on the job each year. Here are some rights to help with workplace injuries.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA is a federal agency that’s in charge of regulating workplace safety standards and enforcing them. They have established guidelines employers must follow to ensure a healthy and safe work environment. Some of their requirements include regular safety inspections, proper training for workers to prevent accidents, and providing protective equipment. If you feel that your workplace is unsafe or your employer is not following OSHA guidelines, you have the right to file a complaint. OSHA can investigate your case and compel your employer to take corrective action.

unconscious worker after falling from a ladder

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that employers must have to cover medical expenses and lost wages for employees injured on the job. You can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits if you’re injured while performing your duties. Benefits typically include payment of medical bills, reimbursement for lost wages, and disability benefits if you cannot return to work. You must report your injury to your employer and file a claim immediately. Each state has workers’ compensation laws, so ensure you know your rights.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

If you’re injured on the job and require extended time off for recovery, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for 12 months. During this time, your job is protected, and your employer must continue to provide your health care benefits. This law applies to employers with 50 or more employees. Not all workplace injuries or illnesses may qualify for FMLA leave, so discuss your situation with your employer or HR representative.

Whistleblower Protection

If you believe that your employer is violating workplace safety regulations, OSHA guidelines, or other laws related to workplace safety, you have the right to report it without fear of retaliation. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH) prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report safety violations. Retaliation could include anything from termination to demotion or even harassment. If you believe you’re being punished, you should immediately file a complaint with OSHA.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

Workplace injuries or illnesses can sometimes result from the negligence of someone other than your employer. In this case, you may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. For example, if you’re in an accident while driving a company car, you may be able to sue the other driver for damages. Consult with a personal injury lawyer to see if you have a case. They can help you build a case if you’re entitled to compensation. Moreover, they can represent you against the company that might have been negligent in its duty to provide a safe workplace.

How to Avoid Workplace Injuries

You must take the necessary steps to stay safe as an employee. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:

workplace injury

Follow Instructions

There are given safety procedures to follow in all workplaces. Ensure you read and understand the instructions thoroughly and consistently follow them closely.

Be Vigilant

You should constantly observe your surroundings for potential hazards that may cause injuries. If something looks dangerous, don’t take any chances; report it to your supervisor or HR representative immediately.

Use Protective Gear

Your employer should provide you with the necessary protective gear to do your job safely. Ensure you always use it, even if it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

Ensure your clothing is not too loose, as it can get caught in machinery and cause accidents. Also, ensure that your shoes are non-slip and have good support.

These are just a few tips on how to avoid workplace injuries and illness. By following these steps, you can reduce the risk of injury or disease in the workplace and protect yourself. Awareness of your rights if you are injured on the job, is essential. Knowing how to file a workers’ compensation claim, how to report safety violations without fear of retaliation, and what other options may be available can help you protect yourself from workplace injuries.

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