When Is an Employer Responsible for a Workplace Injury?

Accidents happen in the workplace, and serious injuries can be the result. Here’s what you should know regarding workplace injuries and how to address them.

What Are Workplace Injuries?

Workplace injuries are illnesses or injuries that take place at an employee’s place of work or develop due to the requirements of their occupation.

Nearly any workplace will have some type of safety hazard, although some workplaces are more prone to injuries and accidents than others. For example, even working in an office can carry risks for employees such as getting carpal tunnel from typing or slipping down a staircase, but working on a construction site can pose more frequent and serious risks of being injured by heavy machinery or falling off of scaffolding.

Common workplace injuries include things like slips and falls, repetitive stress injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and equipment accidents.

How is Workplace Injury Liability Determined?

Just because you are injured at your place of work doesn’t mean that your employer is necessarily liable for the injury. There are a few factors that determine who is liable for a workplace injury:

Was the Employee Following Workplace Safety Rules?

Employees are responsible for following safety rules in the workplace, such as wearing the proper clothing and safety gear to prevent injuries.

If an employee fails to take the correct safety measures, they are held accountable for their own resulting injuries.

For example, a construction worker who is struck by a falling object while not wearing a hard hat in a designated area would not be able to sue their employer for head injuries sustained—at least not for injuries that would have been avoided had they been using the proper safety gear. (Not an unlikely scenario, considering that falling objects are one of the top hazards at construction sites!)

A New York construction accident attorney will be able to help determine liability depending on the specific circumstances of the accident.

Whether the Employer Enforces Safety Rules

All employees have a right to a safe workplace environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers enforce basic safety rules to protect their employees. These rules can include providing adequate safety training for job positions, including acquiring the correct certifications and licensing if necessary.

If an employer does not give sufficient safety training, does not maintain OSHA requirements for their specific workplace, or otherwise creates a hazardous work environment, they can be held responsible for workplace injuries sustained as a result.

If you are a New York employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure every employee understands the safety rules and regulations of your industry and specific job responsibilities, especially in hazardous areas.

Workplace Safety During COVID-19

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, signed the New York Health and Essential Rights (HERO) Act into law on May 5, 2021. This act updated workplace safety requirements for all New York employers to account for increased risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the new workplace safety requirements include:

  • Health screenings for employees
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Disinfectant and cleaning requirements
  • Anti-retaliation requirements

When and Where an Injury Occurs

Employer liability for injuries depends on when and where the injury occurs. For example, a company may loan employees vehicles to provide services in the area. If an employee has an accident that causes injuries to themselves or another person while on the clock driving to or from a job, the employer may be held liable.

However, if the employee is involved in an accident in the company car while off the clock, the employer cannot be held liable; although the car is the company’s property, because the employee was using the vehicle for personal use and not for business, injuries sustained are not treated as “workplace” injuries.

Additionally, conditions that develop over time may not be able to be traced to the location of the specific business; but if they are due to responsibilities required by the job, the employer may be required to provide workers’ compensation and aid or otherwise be held liable.

This is where most repetitive stress injuries fall: sustaining hearing loss from working on loud construction sites, muscle injuries from lifting heavy objects, etc, won’t become apparent at once like a workplace injury, but they are still caused by the work environment or requirements of the job.

How Should You Address Workplace Injuries?

If you are injured while on the job, it’s best to hire a personal injury lawyer. Napoli Shkolnik’s skilled lawyers are practiced in personal injury, medical malpractice, social security disability, and more. Contact us today so we can help you receive justice and financial compensation for your workplace injury.