The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires all employers nationwide, including Pennsylvania, to provide safe work environments free of known hazards. However, not all of them comply, and you might be one of the many workers whose employer prioritizes profits over employee safety. If that is the case, returning home safely each night might depend on your ability to avoid safety hazards.
Safety initiatives can prevent most work-related illnesses and injuries, but they require safety training, vigilance and supervision to ensure compliance with prescribed safety standards. You might find it necessary to learn about potential hazards and take precautions to avoid landing in the hospital.
Does your boss encourage you to take shortcuts?
Taking shortcuts is never okay, and using improper tools because they are handy can cause serious injuries -- even if it is only this one time. If your boss makes any of the following suggestions, it might show that your safety is not the focus:
- Safety guidelines: Safety training is essential, not only to learn about the safe operation of new equipment or addressing new hazards but also to revise general safety standards to keep them fresh in your mind. If your boss says training is unnecessary because there are no changes to existing safety guidelines, it might show his or her lack of interest in your health and safety.
- Personal protective equipment: No one should be without PPE on a construction site, even if it is uncomfortable and seems to compromise mobility. Never accept your employer's suggestion to work without your hardhat, fall arrest harness, eye and ear protection, or protective gloves that are appropriate for the task at hand.
- Choice of tools: Using the wrong tool for a job can not only prevent efficiency but also compromise your safety. Be cautious when your employer suggests that you use a similar tool because it will do the same job -- it never does.
- Equipment inspections: All machines need scheduled inspections as prescribed by manufacturers to ensure safe operation. Do not let your employer convince you to disregard the need for a scheduled inspection because that might be no more than an attempt to save money, regardless of the injury risks.
- Scaffolds and ladders: Scaffolds and ladders both have specific purposes, and you should never replace one for the other because it can save time. If your employer orders you to use the ladder because it is easier and less costly than erecting a scaffold, know that no saving is worth you risking your life.
Do not put your safety in the hands of an employer who encourages shortcuts.
Your right to workers' compensation benefits
If your employer's focus is on saving money and time wherever possible, he or she will likely also attempt to avoid filing workers' compensation claims that can cause increased premiums. If this happens, it might be a good idea to use legal counsel to navigate the benefits claims process and obtain applicable benefits under Pennsylvania laws.