What Makes a Dangerous Work Environment?
Workers in Alabama are only as safe as their workplaces. Despite many state and federal regulations that control work conditions and require safety measures, serious and fatal workplace accidents occur every year. Unsafe working conditions can take many forms in a dangerous workplace. Knowing how to identify and report hazardous conditions could keep you and other workers safe.
Slip and Fall Hazards
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) falls are the leading cause of death among workers in the United States. Our specialized Birmingham construction accident attorneys know that falls are especially deadly for construction workers and make up the largest percentage of private industry worker deaths each year. Slip, trip and fall accidents can be caused by many workplace hazards, including:
- Property defects
- Poor lighting
- Unsafe staircases
- Dangerous ladders
- A lack of barriers
- Poorly constructed scaffolds
- No warning signs
- Inadequate personal fall arrest systems
Fall protection in construction was the top most frequently cited standard by OSHA in fiscal year 2021. If your employer is ignoring potential fall hazards in your workplace or has not equipped you with the proper safety equipment in case of a fall, report the violation. Falls can cause serious injuries, including broken bones, head and brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and worker deaths.
Unguarded Machinery and Equipment
Many occupations in Alabama require employees to work with and around heavy machinery and dangerous equipment. All pieces of machinery should contain proper machine guards to protect workers from catastrophic injuries such as amputations or dismemberment from getting pulled into the machine. If a piece of equipment has fallen into a state of disrepair or is missing its machine guard, your employer should make repairs or replacements. In addition, anyone working with the machinery should be properly trained to operate it safely and correctly.
Environmental hazards in the workplace can cause employee injuries without anything physically touching the victim. Continuous loud noise, for example, can cause hearing damage or hearing loss. Working in the sunlight all day as a construction worker could cause heat stroke, sunburn or severe radiation burns. Exposure to dangerous chemicals or toxic substances could cause chemical burn injuries, poisoning, illnesses and cancer. Any identifiable environmental risk should be addressed and prevented by an employer with proper containment and/or personal protective equipment (PPE).
Injuries caused by trauma are not the only threat to workers in Alabama. Ergonomic hazards can also cause injuries, such as soft-tissue injuries or back injuries from heavy lifting. Repetitive movements, such as typing on a keyboard or working on an assembly line, can also lead to injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome. Employers can protect workers from these injuries by providing proper equipment, such as chairs, back braces and properly adjusted workstations.
What to Do if You See Signs of a Dangerous Workplace
If you notice safety violations or hazards in your workplace, say something. Report the issue to your employer or manager. Safety issues should be addressed and remedied promptly. If your employer fails to fix the problem or retaliates against you for reporting the issue, file a complaint with OSHA. This federal organization will send an agent to visit your workplace to inspect for safety problems. Retaliation, or taking adverse employment action against you for reporting a dangerous work environment, is prohibited and can lead to legal action being taken against your employer.
If an unreasonably dangerous work environment or unsafe condition at your job gives you an injury or illness, contact a workplace accident attorney in Birmingham. You may be eligible for financial compensation for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, disability, pain and suffering, and more. An attorney can help you file a workers’ compensation claim and/or personal injury lawsuit, depending on your circumstances. Bringing a claim can reimburse you for your losses as well as require your employer to improve workplace safety in the future. Working with a Birmingham personal injury attorney can provide expert legal representation and help you recover maximum compensation after suffering a work injury.