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Workplace Safety


By January 1, 2013No Comments

If your workers take a “rules are for fools” attitude when it comes to workplace safety, and supervisors don’t enforce these standards, you could end up paying through the nose for their indifference.

Consider this story, based on a real court case:

Joe was a wrapper at ABC Furniture. One afternoon, he worked overtime to help his supervisor, Mario, build an enclosed office within the company warehouse. Late that afternoon, Mario told him to pick up a load of sheetrock, using a forklift – even though Joe wasn’t trained or certified to use it. The result: he overloaded the forklift, which turned over and crushed his leg, an injury that required amputation. When Joe applied for Workers Compensation, ABC fought the claim, arguing that because he violated company safety policy by operating a forklift without authorization or training, he was injured while acting “outside the scope of his employment.”

However, a state superior court, disagreed, ruling that Joe could collect benefits – even though he had violated company safety rules and wasn’t performing his usual job. In this case, both he and his supervisor, Mario, clearly had no commitment to a policy that would have prevented the accident.

All too often, employees sidestep safety rules, while their supervisors turn a blind eye to this reckless behavior. Many of these cases involve misuse of equipment and forklifts, usually by younger, risk-taking workers.

The bottom line: If employees don’t know and/or follow safety rules, and supervisors don’t enforce them, resulting in an accident – especially one that involves a serious injury – your business will suffer such unpleasant consequences as higher Workers Comp rates, lower productivity, and declining workplace morale.