Whether you started working at your current job years ago or are a recent hire, you may have a vague recollection of the safety training you received. Perhaps you tuned it out because the presentation was not interesting or the information seemed like common sense. Likewise, you may barely notice the many safety warnings and posters around the shop. In fact, it may seem like every machine has a warning to keep your hands back.
Perhaps you recently witnessed a workplace accident that left a co-worker with a hand injury. This event may cause you to realize how important those warnings are and how difficult it is to perform even the simplest tasks without the use of your hand. Whether the injury was a cut or burn or your co-worker permanently lost the use of his or her hand, your perspective on safety in the workplace may have changed.
Protecting your most valuable work tool
Hundreds of thousands of workers suffer hand injuries each year, from those who need stitches to those whose injuries require amputation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to follow minimum standards of safety, including offering thorough training for the safe use of equipment and providing appropriate personal protection from any of the following potential injuries:
Equipment your employer provides for you must have a rating for protection against those hazards to which your tasks leave you most vulnerable.
In addition to personal hand gear, the equipment with which you work must have signage alerting you to specific dangers, such as moving parts or blades. When machines are receiving maintenance or repairs, OSHA requires those machines to have tags marking them to prevent you from activating the equipment while someone's hands are exposed to danger.
Providing protective gloves and signage is not enough. OSHA rules obligate your employer to offer adequate and ongoing training, not just for new hires, but for all employees who are at risk of suffering injuries. Training may include how to use and maintain protective equipment and how to safely operate any new machinery.
Hand injuries are only one type of workplace injury that can affect the rest of your life. Despite training and protection, a moment of inattention or malfunction can mean a lifetime of pain and struggle. In these circumstances, many Virginia workers find that an experienced attorney who offers personal and compassionate service is most helpful in their efforts to seek compensation.