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What can a Maryland worker do to protect their safety?

While many employees across Maryland look forward to an upcoming long weekend for Memorial Day, a few weeks ago Workers Memorial Day ceremonies took place across Maryland. In Cumberland, Maryland, one ceremony comprised a prayer vigil punctuated by the morose sound of bagpipes in honor of workers killed on the job across the state. These ceremonies across the country have a consistent theme: “Pray for the dead, fight like hell for the living.”

However, many feel that federal regulators are not doing enough to fight for the living. We have previously blogged about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration looking to take steps to protect more temporary workers. However, many still argue that OSHA lacks the authority really needed to change the attitudes of negligent employers.

When fines can be negotiated significantly down, and recommendations can be issued, but a plant or workplace cannot be shutdown, little change happens to increase the safety of workers here in Maryland or elsewhere across the country. This is why it is imperative for workers in Maryland to be aware of their right to recover from an injury occurred through the course of work.

Workers compensation can provide compensation for medical bills after a workplace injury and compensation for lost wages incurred from missed work to tend to the injury. In some instances, a third-party liability claim could even be at play. An attorney can assist an injured worker understand his or her options, but many are scared. 

Particularly for vulnerable workers that are immigrants, non-native English speakers and lacking union-protection, reporting unsafe conditions or an injury causes anxiety of possible job loss. One advocate for workers feels that OSHA needs to do more than levy fines, he says, “Hispanic and immigrant workers, who often work in the most dangerous jobs and are exploited by employers, have no union protections and are afraid to speak out....Hundreds of workers are fired or harassed by their employers each year simply for voicing job-safety concerns or reporting injuries.” Employees that know their rights in Maryland can be better able to protect their safety and health.

Source: Peoples World, “Report: Food on American tables costs a life a day,” Mark Gruenberg, April 25, 2013

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