Workers are entitled to a safe work environment. To meet its obligations, an employer must protect you from hazards that cause injuries or illnesses. Often an employer can eliminate hazards through proper ventilation or by using less toxic substances, but when these controls are inadequate, your employer must give you personal protective equipment (PPE). Read on for more information about your rights.
Examples of PPE
There are many hazards at a workplace, and to protect workers the following protective equipment might be necessary:
- Hard hats
- Face shields
- Eye protection
- Rubber boots with steel toes
Ever since 2008, employers must pay for any PPE that is required to make the workplace safe. A worker can certainly use their own protective equipment, but this must be completely voluntary. Furthermore, an employer cannot require you to provide your own equipment.
However, an employer does not need to pay for ordinary clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts or long pants, winter jackets, or other winter clothing.
Determining whether to Sue Your Employer
What happens if your boss refuses to provide you with adequate PPE, in direct contravention of what the law requires? Fortunately, injured workers might be able to take action.
Generally, if an employer has workers’ compensation insurance, then this insurance provides the only benefits that an injured worker can obtain. Workers’ compensation will cover necessary medical care and a portion of lost wages.
However, Texas does not require that businesses have workers’ compensation insurance, and many businesses don’t. Any employer without insurance opens themselves up to liability for any injuries that they negligently cause their employees. Failing to properly protect employees from known hazards will probably qualify, so you should meet with an experienced workplace injuries attorney to review your case.
If an employer does have workers’ compensation insurance, then Texas statute 408.001 allows surviving spouses and children to bring a lawsuit for exemplary damages (punitive damages) if a loved one has died because of an employer’s gross negligence. Refusing to provide protective safety equipment in violation of the law probably gives you grounds under the statute to sue.
Before meeting with an attorney, you should collect as much evidence in your favor as possible. For example, keep copies of your medical records that will show the severity of your injuries. Also try to document whether you asked your employer to provide you with safety equipment and they failed to. This can be powerful evidence that your employer has violated your rights knowingly. For example, you might have bought your own goggles and asked an employer to reimburse you for them. If they refused, then you can introduce this as evidence.
Injured at Work? Contact an Austin Workplace Injury Attorney Today
The Austin, Texas legal team at DC Law has years of experience helping injured workers get the compensation they need. If you have suffered an injury, and if you believe your employer’s refusal to provide protective equipment is to blame, reach out to us today. We offer clients a free consultation to discuss your case. Please call 512-220-1800.