Many Georgia residents are put in harm’s way every time they show up for work. However, they do not have the ability to leave their jobs or risk not having an income. The current OSHA safety regime has proven to be insufficient for many industries. Ironically, the coal mining industry can now serve as a model for safety.
Congress has passed legislation specific to the coal industry that increased safety standards. There are more inspectors and workers have more rights. As a result, the number of deaths among workers keeps falling. However, the regular OSHA regulatory regime comes up short in comparison to the coal industry. While coal has one safety inspector for every 50 workers, the ratio is much higher for other OSHA-covered occupation.
Of increasing relevance, coal miners have the right to refuse work when they believe it to be dangerous without fear of reprisal. However, other workers can only reject an assignment if they believe that there is an imminent danger of death or serious injury. This is important because many workers have been terminated because they have stayed home out of fear of illness or injury. In general, OSHA safety inspections and enforcement actions have been declining recently due to reduced budgets. This places American workers in more danger than they have faced in recent memory.
When one is injured or sickened at work, the law gives them the right to file a claim and receive workers’ compensation benefits. They must first prove that they are injured and that the harm occurred as a result of their work. Oftentimes, this is not an easy burden to meet. They should hire a workers’ compensation attorney who could assist them in documenting and drafting their claim since the process is not easy for one to figure out on their own.