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Safety equipment at center of Ohio Supreme Court ruling

Construction workers have one of the most dangerous jobs. The amount of labor being performed with a countless number of machines and heavy materials can cause injury in the blink of an eye with one small mistake. Construction accidents are not rare by any means, and if your employer does not provide you with the proper safety equipment, you may be eligible for extra workers' compensation benefits.

In Ohio, the state Supreme Court recently ruled on a case involving such a situation.

An electrician was told to investigate a situation when the plant he worked at experienced a power failure. He was directed to the main electrical breaker cabinet. According to reports, he was not wearing or using any safety equipment. The employer admitted that the employee did not have any of the required safety equipment, except for maybe gloves.

While standing in front of the cabinet, it exploded, seriously injuring the man. His injuries led him to file a workers' compensation claim. He also sought additional benefits due to his employer's direct violation of a specific safety requirement. The employer resisted, but the Ohio Supreme Court sided with the man.

According to the employer, the employee caused the explosion by opening a higher-voltage panel instead of the lower-voltage panel that the electrician was authorized to work on. The employer tried to use this to say that the man was not supposed to be at the main breaker cabinet. Allowing him to work on the lower-voltage side authorized him to be there, according to the courts, negating this assertion.

The employer also claimed that the electrician could have requested safety equipment. According to the Supreme Court, this does not make a lack of safety equipment acceptable. It is the duty of an employer to provide safety equipment, regardless of an employee's requests or lack thereof.

Source: Risk & Insurance, "Employer on the hook for extra benefits for failure to provide safety equipment," July 26, 2012

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