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Friday, December 6, 2013

Workplace Safety Incentive Programs May Cause Controversy for Workers Compensation Claimants

Workplace Safety Incentive Programs May Cause Controversy for Workers Compensation Claimants

Some employers have “Safety Incentive” programs to encourage safety in the workplace and decrease work related injuries, thus decreasing workers’ compensation claims.   For example, an employer may give bonuses for no accidents in the workplace or have a year end pizza party for employees for low incident rates.  There are even companies that offer expert services to risk managers of companies to assist them to lower accidents in the workplace, such as Safety Pays and Safety Jackpot.  However, not everyone agrees that these programs are appropriate.  OSHA has been critical of traditional safety incentive programs that appear to discourage employees from reporting workplace injuries.   The Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA expressed concerns over these programs in a February, 2013 OSHA Employees All Hands On Meeting, stating such programs are part of several factors that can undermine a workplace culture of safety.  An employer cannot discriminate against an employee for exercising a protected right, such as the right to report an injury.  These programs may actually have a chilling effect on employee’s reporting injuries and are problematic.

If your company has a program such as this or if you are scared to report a work injury, you should contact an experienced attorney.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Workers’ Compensation - Highway Work Zone Accidents

Workers’ Compensation - Highway Work Zone Accidents

Every year there are multiple accidents occurring in highway work zones in North Carolina and other states. Work zones on the highway can be dangerous for construction and maintenance workers who are trying to build, repair and work on our highways.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted that statistics show multiple worker fatalities in work zones each year.

In November of 2012, a North Carolina transportation employee was killed after an accident while working on Highway 12 south of Bonner Bridge.  Crews were working to remove sand brought by Hurricane Sandy and the accident happened at night when the road conditions were challenging.

It is important for motorists to take care while driving in construction zones to decrease the number of work zone accidents.  North Carolina has a number of laws to try to decrease work zone accidents and require motorists to move over to change lanes whenever possible if approaching construction vehicles with flashing lights.  If a driver cannot change lanes, the driver needs to slow down while passing a construction vehicle.

When a worker is injured or killed in North Carolina in a work zone accident, it is important that a workers’ compensation claim is filed and an experienced attorney is consulted regarding the claim.