Workplace safety is key to protecting the health of employees as well as the financial future of any company. In fact, providing a safe place to work is not only a solid business decision but also required by law. This is especially important in workplaces that employ heavy machinery and complicated tools to make their products.
Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than in workplaces and mills engaged in the manufacture and manipulation of sheet and heavy plate steel at any stage of the process. Jobs in this field often require the movement of heavy materials and the use of complex tools, and they can place their workers in significant danger.
It is vital that both employees and employers at steel mills in Charleston take appropriate safety measures. This can both fulfill the government requirements for safety and help to prevent on-the-job injuries that can result in complicated workers’ compensation claims. If you do suffer such an injury, though, a Charleston steel mill workplace safety lawyer could help you effectively pursue damages. Call today to learn how a seasoned workers’ compensation attorney could help you.
Employers’ Legal Obligations to Protect Workers
Overall workplace safety is controlled by the federal government through the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH). This law, enacted by Congress in 1970, creates a legal duty for all employers around the country to provide a reasonably safe work environment for all employees. It does not matter if the workplace is an office, a retail store, or even out on the road. Similarly, it does not matter if the employer is a private company, a publicly traded corporation, or a state agency.
More specifically, the OSH Act states that all employers must take steps to prevent workers from being exposed to hazards that are causing, or can be expected to cause, serious injury or death. In an industry as potentially dangerous as steel production, this can involve taking steps designed to protect not just the properties owned by the company, but also employees working on site.
As specifically applied to steel mills in Charleston, this can include:
- Operating well-maintained machinery and buildings
- Ensuring that all employees receive necessary training, including the procurement proper licenses
- Providing all required safety equipment
- Creating emergency actions plans in case of an incident
Any failure to take proper safety precautions can lead to a federal investigation led by the Department of Labor and if retained by the worker who filed the initial report, assisted by a Charleston steel mill workplace safety attorney. A deficiency can result in the imposition of stiff civil fines.
Following a Workplace Injury in Charleston
A workplace injury in a Charleston steel mill can trigger a pair of lawsuits, the first of which involves potential federal investigations into the safety procedures utilized by the employer. The Department of Labor has the authority to inspect any workplace in the country to ensure compliance with the OSH Act. These investigations can be instigated by the government itself or through a worker complaint. It is important to note that it is illegal for any employer to retaliate against an employee who files a complaint.
The second legal repercussion for a workplace injury is a workers’ compensation claim governed by state law. South Carolina requires all employers to obtain an insurance policy, and this policy goes into effect any time that a worker is injured on the job. Even if a Charleston steel mill had no prior complaint filed in the Department of Labor, an injury can still trigger a workers’ compensation case.
Workers’ compensation is designed to provide income to workers who are injured while performing their jobs and who are unable to return to work. Among other benefits, this can include payments for any lost time up to the present date, as well as lump-sum payments for any permanent disfigurement or loss of workability. A Charleston steel mill workplace safety lawyer could help determine whether an individual worker has valid grounds to pursue such benefits in their case.
Speak with a Charleston Steel Mill Workplace Safety Attorney
It is both a legal requirement and a solid business practice to minimize workplace injuries. This includes both workers and employers taking positive steps to reduce the chances of an accident and to increase overall awareness of the dangers present on the job.
If failures on the part of employers lead to an injury—or even if an injury is not caused by a lack of safety protocol—an injured worker has the right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. A Charleston steel mill workplace safety attorney could provide valuable advice about your rights. Call today and schedule a consultation with a workplace safety advocate.