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Companies Warned to Not to Value Profits Over Worker Safety

Many publicly traded-companies value profits over just about anything else. Unfortunately, this too often means worker safety falls by the wayside. One of the ways companies work to increase their profits each quarter is to cut costs through a process known as efficiencies.

weldingAccording to recent news article from Industry Week, companies and their CEOs and boards of directors should not put profits ahead of worker safety.  While this is certainly something with which everyone should agree, it should be noted that that this article was written by someone in the insurance industry, and that industry is likely more concerned with its own profitability. The main way the workers’ compensation insurance industry makes money is by charging more in premiums to employers than they pay out in workers’ compensation benefits to employees who were injured on the job, so we can guess what their motivation in companies spending money on worker safety would be.

While clearly we see an increased effort to enhance worker safety, as our workers’ compensation attorneys in Boston can explain, there is no need to prove any fault on behalf of your employer to collect in a workers’ compensation case.  The reason for this is because the workers’ compensation system in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was created as a no-fault system. This means that it is only necessary to prove that you are an employee and that you were injured on the job.  By employee, we mean employee within the meaning of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, as opposed to being an independent contactor who may not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.  However, it should be noted that most workers are employees, even though employers routinely try to misclassify their workers and independent contractors.

As discussed in this article, the author met with a CEO of a major company who explained that the insurance companies were a “pain in [his] butt,” as they were always raising the premium.  However, he learned that they were only raising the premiums because there were so many employees being injured on the job who were claiming workers’ compensation benefits. Since there was no money being spent on worker safety efforts, there were more worker accidents, and this resulted in rising premiums.

One of things companies will try to do is to set up an onsite triage center so that a nurse or EMT who is at the company full time can assess if the injury is serious enough to require a call to 911.  Whenever there is a call to 911, this can result in an ambulance ride, and that cost can be shifted to the employer in terms of workers’ compensation.  The triage center allows this cost to be reduced.  However, this is not the type of worker safety initiative that will actually help to prevent injuries, it will just reduce the cost of treatment of injuries that already happened.

If you are at work and are injured and feel you need immediate medical attention, you should not let your employer interfere with that decision.  Many employers discourage anyone but a manager from calling 911, but when a worker is seriously injured, it is important to make sure that medical help is called immediately.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Profits Should Not Come at the Cost of Workplace Safety, November 4, 2016, By Janice Berthold, Industry Week

More Blog Entries:

OSHA’s New Injury Reporting Rule and Employee Drug Testing, July 14, 2016, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog