Employers have the obligation to provide certain things to and for their employees. For one, compensation for their work. Employees are entitled to pay for a job performed and many receive perks in addition to their paycheck. A second is a safe working environment. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, under federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Employers are required to provide workers with the equipment they need to do their jobs safely, training in a language they can understand, and a workplace free of known health and safety hazards. Employees also have the right to compensation in the event they are injured on the job. If they fail to provide these things, an employee has remedies available. Fortunately, most of the time these things are provided and everyone benefits.
Setting a Good Example – Will Other Employers Follow?
Most workers in this country are employed by businesses that play by the rules, protecting health and safety on the job and paying fairly and in accordance with the law. In this story of an employer who is doing the right thing, the need for special equipment for city workers who inspect gas main breaks is recognized. Lawrenceville certainly sets a good example, one that should make other employers take note. Unfortunately, many employers do not have the same proactive policies in place to protect their employees.
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Preventing Gas Main Breaks – What Measures Can Be Taken?
One fairly common cause of a gas main break is damage sustained due to excavation during a construction project. Construction work is dangerous and the excavation often involved in a construction project is one of the most hazardous activities associated with this industry. Excavations are usually a necessary component of a construction project, so the dangers associated with it cannot be ignored – instead, construction companies must find a way to perform this type of work in the safest manner possible. OSHA, in its Safety and Health Information Bulletin entitled Hazards Associated with Striking Underground Gas Lines lists the following excavation requirements that are designed to protect employees and prevent accidental damage to underground utility installations:
- Determine the location of underground installations before beginning excavation;
- Contact utility companies or owners for information about the location of underground installations within local response times;
- If utility companies or owners cannot provide a response within 24 hours to your request for this information, employers may proceed with caution using acceptable equipment or other means to detect the location of utility installations;
- As you get closer to the expected location of underground installations, determine their exact location; and
- During the excavation work, underground installations need to be supported or removed as necessary to keep employees safe.
Compliance with these requirements will not prevent every excavation accident, but adherence will definitely go a long way in making a dangerous work activity less so.
Georgia Employee Workers’ Compensation Rights
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Bill of Rights provides rights for employees. These include:
- Medical, rehabilitation and income benefits if injured on the job. Dependants may also be eligible for benefits.
- An employer must provide and post a panel of physicians that the employee may use for the treatment of workers’ compensation injuries.
- Employees are allowed to change doctors one time without permission.
- Doctor, hospital, rehabilitation, and prescription medication costs will be paid if the injury happened while at work.
- Workers are entitled to benefits if they are out of work for seven or more days due to an injury that happened at work.
- An on-the-job accident is classified as catastrophic or non-catastrophic. Employees receive ⅔ of their average weekly wages when they cannot work.
- Employees will receive benefits for up to 400 weeks in non-catastrophic cases.
- If an employee is unable to perform his original job due to the injury, he is entitled to benefits that provide the difference in pay.
- If the employee does not receive payment when it is due, the insurance company or employer must pay a penalty to the employee.
- If a worker dies due to an on-the-job injury, the beneficiaries will receive burial and funeral expenses and ⅔ of the worker’s pay.
Responsibilities of Workers Under Workers’ Comp
Employees must also abide by the responsibilities set forth by law.
- Employees must follow the safety rules and other policies and procedures of the company.
- Employees must report an accident immediately to the employer. The report must be within 30 days of the incident.
- Employees must accept treatment by the physician and follow the treatment guidelines that the doctor provides.
- Employees must work with the insurance provider to ensure that documents are up-to-date.
- Employees must seek approval by the physician for job reinstatement, even if the job has lower pay than the original position.
- Employees must file a claim within a year if they think the compensation they received is not fair.
- Employees must submit to drug testing after an accident. If they refuse the test, the employer’s insurance company may determine that the accident was caused by drug or alcohol use.
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When Trouble Arises, We Are Here To Help
When a workplace accident happens, you want to be able to turn to someone you can trust. The attorneys at the Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, are here to help with any type of workers’ compensation matter. We will review the facts of your case and guide you to the right path to get relief for your injuries. The law limits the time you have after an accident occurs to take action, so contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Help us to help you in your time of need.