Georgia workers are at risk of illness or injury every time they leave their homes to go to work. OSHA protections for them leave something to be desired as many of these employees are required to go to their job no matter what. In this case, workplaces have something to learn from the regulations that govern the coal mining industry.
Many think that coal mining is one of the most dangerous occupations due to the number of major accidents that have drawn media attention. However, new laws have made coal mining less dangerous. Notably, there are two major protections that miners have. First, there is a much higher ratio of safety inspectors to workers than in nearly all other industries. Second, miners have the right to refuse work without repercussions if they believe it to be unsafe.
Employees in other industries must perform the work unless they believe that there is imminent danger of serious injury or death. This has forced many employees to go to work when they are afraid of being sickened or they have preexisting conditions that leave them at higher risk. In general, OSHA regulation has been weakened since 2016, and lower budgets mean fewer inspectors and enforcement of safety violations. This places more employees at risk for both workplace injuries as well as being sickened on the job.
The workers’ compensation system is an employee’s near-exclusive remedy if they are injured on the job. If they are sickened by a virus at work, they will need to show that they were exposed at work. Those who have been injured should contact a workers’ compensation attorney to learn more about how they can file a claim and how the process works. The attorney may help assemble the claim and represent their client if there are any hearings.