Someone can file for worker’s compensation for almost any injury or illness. That’s one reason why there are so many fights over the legitimacy of worker’s comp claims, both in their severity and whether the injury is work related. However, some claims are worse than others. For example, an office worker filing for worker’s comp claiming carpal tunnel syndrome may require surgery or reduced workloads, but it won’t put your company at risk. Here are the workplace injuries that can put you out of business.
A work-related death can put your business out of business. The safety inspectors from OSHA will almost certainly shut everything down. The civil liability for the death could wipe out the profits for a small business for the year. Adding additional safety equipment or undergoing repeated process changes and audits can have the same effect. The negative PR that comes with reported deaths on the job cannot be understated.
The solution is to address any potentially serious hazards as soon as they’re identified. If someone is seriously hurt, identify the cause and eliminate it before someone is killed. Serious injuries are expensive enough as is. The grieving family will have no problems finding a Houston work injury attorney willing to take their case. You need good legal representation, too, if your business is involved.
Note that the employee death may not be directly your fault. For example, it is possible for an employer to be sued because the employee was killed during a robbery. Their family could argue this was a workplace hazard you should have mitigated with better security, whether it was on campus or the delivery driver was killed during a hold-up.
A Traumatic Brain Injury
People are several times more likely to be severely disabled than they are to be killed in an accident. That’s as true for falls from a great height as it is for car crashes. The worst case scenario is a traumatic brain injury. The person is not dead, but they’re not that much better off. They can’t work. Their care is prohibitively expensive. And they will fight for every dollar they can. OSHA and insurers will shut things down and require as extensive an investigation as they do for a death, since someone nearly died. Given the costs involved, you must have legal representation to fight these cases as well as professional guidance in identifying and mitigating workplace hazards.
Severe disabilities are almost as bad as traumatic brain injuries. Horror stories of losing a hand, leg or eye will hit the headlines, though they’re not as severe as losing one’s life or ability to function in the world. These injuries tend to occur when there were either insufficient machine guards or someone wasn’t following proper procedure when working around them. The classic case is when someone tries to grab something on the conveyor line without turning off the machine, getting their fingers crushed between rollers. However, it may not be their fault. Failing to restore machine guards after maintenance can create the unsafe conditions, while the employee might not be aware of the risk of working without guards in place. And the employee isn’t at fault if missing guards or faulty equipment sprays them with de facto shrapnel. The severity of these cases forces companies into major settlements, because the victim can leverage the threat of negative PR by going to the press.
This is why companies must have formal policies and procedures in place to keep everyone as safe as possible. And it is why they must enforce these policies on everyone from line workers to maintenance techs to managers, if they want to minimize the risk of injuries and liability if something does happen.