Workplace accidents are not an uncommon occurrence, but they still can be very difficult to handle for just about everyone involved. As certain workplaces are inherently riskier than others, it is clear that workplace accidents happen, but the fact of the matter is that it is all still preventable.
These preventable accidents happen because of various reasons, but more often than not workplaces tend to ignore certain safety requirements and regulations, such as equipment checks and inspections.
In this content piece, we will look at how workplace negligence can lead to a higher risk, and how you can protect yourself from it.
What is Negligence?
Within the context of workplace safety, negligence is when safety practices are ignored. A workplace that is conducting any sort of high-risk work, from manual handling to working at height, or even with hazardous materials, must conduct risk assessments and determine the risks. A risk assessment allows an organization to understand the inherent dangers of conducting a work duty so that they can implement safety procedures and proper precautions.
Overall, the role of risk assessments and safety officers is to either eliminate the risk entirely or if not possible, do their utmost best to minimize it.
When one or both of these steps are either skipped or ignored, it means that the organization is being negligent about its duties and responsibilities.
What Can You Do as an Employee Facing Workplace Negligence?
One of the first lines of defense for an employee against workplace negligence is to use their rights under the laws and policies of workplace safety. For example, it is an employee’s right to ask for a safe place to work, training and guidelines on work procedures that prioritize safety, and proper compensation for any injuries occurring on the job.
However, there is also one particular avenue that workers can take, and that is to report such negligence to the relevant authorities. A few of them are:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a regulatory agency for the United States. It is part of the US Department of Labor. Most US companies, and almost all private companies, operate under the regulations set by this administration.
If any employee is facing negligence or has a supervisor or workplace ignoring any safety laws, they should report it to this authority.
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) is the European Union’s equivalent of OSHA, regulating the member states through its decentralized regulatory network of agencies.
The Health and Safety Executive
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a UK-based institution that regulates business practices and provides safety guidelines. They set the standard for safety, and so if any employee in the UK has concerns, they should report it to the HSE.
These are the primary agencies in these areas regulating their respective industries, and each has its own set of laws and regulations, with all of them focusing on employee safety and fair work practices.
What are the Dangers of Negligence at Work?
While negligence in general can lead to plenty of unwanted results, the primary focus here is negligence against safety practices and following proper procedures against known risks. Both employers and employees can be responsible for workplace negligence, depending on the neglected area.
For example, if an employer has put in place all the necessary safety practices, providing training, as well as adequate safety controls, then they have fulfilled their responsibility, at least in that particular case. Employers still have accountability for their worker’s negligence if left unchecked.
If workplace safety is neglected, it can lead to a myriad of issues and risks, such as:
- Employees or the general public becoming physically injured
- Loss of life
- Lost income or increased expenses and repair costs
- Legal penalties, fines, and court cases
- Cost in damage compensation
- Cost in loss of workdays
These are just a few consequences of workplace negligence. Other potential areas can be industry-specific, but they are mostly preventable if proper safety procedures are followed.
How Employees Can Protect and Be Protected Against Negligence
Employers are the first to be responsible for workplace safety and must provide, train for, and enforce safety rules within the work being conducted according to the relevant laws and regulations.
- Provide a safe working environment
- Prioritize the well-being and health of their employees
- Follow relevant safety procedures
- Ensure that implemented practices are followed
- Conduct maintenance and inspections on safety rules, equipment, and procedures
If an employer or even an employee neglects their safety practices, they carry the potential danger of losing their license or job permit entirely.
Employers need to ensure the provision of training for hazardous substances, risk assessment training, manual handling training, work-at-height training, and more. However, only if these practices are enforced for both employers and employees can they be effective in ensuring safety.
Safety is always something to focus on, and both workers and workplaces tend to play fast and loose with following safety procedures. Here, we have discussed how they are dangerous and why it is so important for both employees and employers to be accountable for their negligence.