If there is a safety violation on the job or if someone gets hurt at work, an employer could be cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the employee could make a workers’ compensation claim to obtain payment of medical bills and other benefits.Our Atlanta, workers’ compensation lawyers know that it is a good thing when employees report unsafe workplace conditions to their employers, as these conditions can then be corrected. When a worker reports a workplace injury, in alerts an employer to the fact that something has gone wrong and caused harm. Additionally, the employee can get treatment for the injury before something worse happens that is more costly to treat and that causes permanent disability.
Despite the fact that it is better for both employers and employees if workplace safety violations and on-the-job injuries are reported, a new article in Safety and Health Magazine reveals that many workers do not alert their employers if something goes wrong. The phenomenon of staying quiet affects workers both young and old, although individual employees and groups of workers have their own reasons for staying quiet.
Why Workers Don’t Alert Their Employers to Problems
According to a study published in the Journal of Safety Research, young workers were unlikely to report safety issues or concerns to employers because they didn’t think they would be considered credible. Teens, especially, indicated that their age and their inexperience made it unlikely that an employer would believe them if something went wrong. Teen workers who got hurt on the job were also deterred from alerting their employer to the injury because they said they felt powerless.
Young people who see safety violations at work, however, don’t just want to accept the problems. Instead, most young workers indicated they prefer to take a wait-and-see approach and they hope that others will reach a consensus that there was a certain hazard or workplace condition that was dangerous. While the young employees would not speak up on their own, they would speak up when a consensus was reached. This choice is explained by the opinion that younger workers shared that they didn’t think that a report from a single worker would cause anything to change.
It is not just the youngest members of the workforce who don’t share information with their employers either. A survey of 135 construction workers conducted by the Center for Construction Research and Technology revealed that as many as 27 percent didn’t report on-the-job harm they endured. The vast majority of these workers–72 percent–said their injury was too small to report, but others said they kept quiet because of concerns about losing safety incentives, because they didn’t want to miss out on work by being labeled as a complainer or because they did not want to take time off to see a doctor.
Whether it is construction workers or teen employees who don’t tell their employers about problems, the consequences can be severe as workplaces become less safe. Employers can combat this problem by making sure supervisors are approachable and by encouraging the creation of a climate that facilitates open communication where employees aren’t afraid to share their concerns about safety.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney. For a free consultation call 1-404-920-4708 today.