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Maryland workers should come to expect workplace safety

We live in a time where businesses are looking to cut corners at every turn just to stay competitive. The sad reality of that frugal mindset is that some employers feel that they are justified in reducing workplace safety in order to keep their businesses solvent. Their rationale is that keeping a worker employed should somehow supersede providing them with adequate safety.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Maryland workers should know that both federal and state safety agencies guarantee them the right to a safe work environment. In fact, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration refers to that obligation as the "general duty clause". Put simply, the employer has the duty of making sure that employees can earn a living at their jobs without being placed in unnecessary risk of serious physical injury or death.

Maryland workers should also know that although the general duty clause covers every type of employment, OSHA has also set forth specific workplace safety requirements for jobs in construction, agriculture, maritime work and general industries. There are also specific standards regarding safe practices of toxic and hazardous materials as well as exposure to infectious diseases. The bottom line is: don't let an employer tell you that it's not their job to maintain a safe work environment for you.

Your employer is required to post information in a conspicuous place about how to file for workers' compensation at your job. Every Maryland employer with at least one employee is also required to maintain workers' compensation insurance coverage, with only a few exceptions.

Don't let your employer tell you that they don't have insurance if you should become hurt at work. The Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission can issue fines and even recommend jail time for employers who fail to maintain adequate workers' comp.

If you feel as though your employer is forcing you to work in unsafe conditions or continuing to work while injured, you should consult with your workers' compensation attorney. Your attorney can review the circumstances of your case and determine the best strategy for a favorable outcome.

Source: Maryland Workers' Compensation Commision, "Question & Answers for Employers about Workers' Compensation Insurance" accessed Mar. 19, 2015

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