As our Spartanburg workers’ compensation lawyers regularly note in posts to our North Carolina Workers Compensation Lawyers blog, employees have a right to a safe, secure work environment. The responsibility for providing that environment falls on the shoulders of the employer and includes more than simply providing a hazard-free physical workspace. The phrase “free of known dangers” covers a lot of ground.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, employers must be proactive in how they care for their workers, from mental health to physical safety. They must educate their staff on current safety issues and practices. They must implement environmental protocols that protect North Carolina workers and customers while minimizing their exposure to potential harm. For example, mapping the process that isolates and prevents the spread of infectious diseases. Or requiring employee access to personal respirators, safety goggles, ear plugs; and providing adequate and timely training in how, when, where and why to use them.
With that said, if a worker is injured on the job, workers’ compensation benefits are available to help that worker recover physically, professionally and financially. Amidst a sea of other far more scandalous financial meltdowns these last few years, Bloomberg reports that American International Group Inc. (AIG) has found itself embroiled in yet another ethics scandal. The company let itself be “bailed-out” by the government to the tune of $182.3 billion (yes, that’s a B) was also accused of filching-by-underpaying workers’ compensation pools. AIG has agreed to pay seven competitors $450 million to settle fraud allegations. One accuser, Liberty Mutual, filed a separate lawsuit seeking more than $1 billion. In 2009, Liberty Mutual accused AIG of long-term fraud. The outcome of that case is pending.
As if dealing with being injured in a North Carolina workplace accident isn’t complex enough – from the paperwork to the politics. Preston Diamond, of the Institute of WorkComp Professionals, recently noted 11 more Workers’ Compensation issues we can expect to address in the coming year. The second and third blog in this series will identify other themes to look for in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation news for 2011.
For North Carolina workers stricken with a work-related illness or injury, Workers’ Compensation attorneys with Lee & Smith know recovery and adjustment can be a lifelong battle. If you have been injured, or someone you love has been injured or succumbed to a work-related illness anywhere in the Carolinas, call us at 1-800-887-1965 or contact our law offices online to discuss your rights.