Whether you work in a hospital, a manufacturing plant, or a restaurant, your employer has a responsibility to create and maintain a safe work environment. There are many regulations employers are required to comply with under the California Occupational Safety and Health Act, one of which includes providing and paying for personal protective equipment (PPE).
The purpose of PPE is to minimize an employee’s exposure to chemical, physical, radiological, electrical, and mechanical hazards on the job. Depending on the hazards present on a jobsite, PPE may include gloves, ear plugs, masks, respirators, safety glasses, or reflective vests. An employer’s failure to provide employees with proper PPE can result in injury, illness, or even death.
If you have been injured on the job due to lack of proper PPE, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits that will cover your hospital bills and replace a portion of your lost income while you’re unable to work.
DOES MY EMPLOYER HAVE TO PROVIDE ME WITH PPE?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to perform a hazard assessment of a job site to identify unsafe conditions. When a hazard cannot be controlled at the source through engineering and administrative measures, an employer is required to identify and provide appropriate PPE for employees. While OSHA requires employers to identify, provide, and pay for PPE, there are no requirements as to the specific types of PPE an employer must provide.
In addition to providing PPE, employers are required to train employees on how to properly use personal protective equipment. Training should include instructions on which PPE should be used for specific tasks and how to put the equipment on and take it off. Employers should demonstrate how to adjust PPE so it fits properly, as poorly fitting PPE can create additional hazards. Workers should learn how to care for, clean, and maintain PPE so they can inform their supervisor when a piece of equipment needs to be repaired or replaced.
Employers are responsible for replacing worn or damaged protective items when necessary. An employer is also required to periodically evaluate and review the effectiveness of a PPE program and make updates as needed to maintain a safe work environment.
COMMON INJURIES CAUSED BY LACK OF PROPER PPE
The injuries that can result from lack of proper PPE range from mild scrapes to amputations and even fatalities. Workers in manufacturing or construction can suffer from hearing loss without earplugs or ear muffs. Without protective gloves, construction workers can suffer lacerations to the hands and fingers. Head injuries can occur due to a lack of hardhat protection. Lack of protective footwear, such as steel toe boots, can result in crushing injuries to the feet and toes. Absence of proper PPE can also lead to eye injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that thousands of workers are blinded each year from failure to wear proper protective equipment.
Of course, lack of proper PPE can also lead to illness, including COVID-19. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers interacting with infected patients rely on masks, gowns, gloves, and other forms of PPE to protect themselves from contracting the virus. According to a report from National Nurses United, more than 1,700 healthcare workers in the United States have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Whether you are a janitor, a nurse, a construction worker, or a restaurant employee, you deserve to perform your job duties in a safe environment. If you have suffered an injury or illness at work due to a lack of proper PPE, you have a right to file for workers’ compensation and collect benefits for your losses.
WORKPLACE INJURY RELATED TO PPE IN SAN DIEGO?
As an employee in the state of California, you have a right to perform your job duties in a safe work environment. If your employer has failed to provide you with the proper PPE necessary for you to do your job safely and you become injured or sick as a result, call us. You may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim for your injury or illness and collect benefits that will pay for your medical bills and lost wages.
At The Law Office of Matthew Russell, our workers’ compensation attorneys have over four decades of specialized experience helping injured workers in California get the benefits they need to recover from workplace injuries. Contact us to schedule your free phone or Zoom consultation today at (619) 544-1506