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Safety rule enforcement can lead to retaliation claims

| May 18, 2021 | Employer Concerns |

Just about any workplace in Kentucky needs safety rules in place.

These sorts of standards are particularly important in high-risk industries like healthcare, construction and industry, but really, every work environment has some potential to cause injuries or illnesses among employees.

Oftentimes, safety standards are required under federal or state law. Private insurance companies and others may also require companies to set up safety rules and procedures.

Finally, having safety rules is part of an employer’s ethical obligation to protect its workers.

Decent employers do not want to see any employee get injured or sick at all and certainly don’t want to break the news to an employee’s family that the employee has been seriously injured or killed.

Safety standards need to be clear; consistently enforced

However, employers need to make sure that the safety standards they have are clear and appropriate.

Employers also need to be sure that they consistently enforce safety standards, without regard to whether a violation of standards led to an accident.

For example, if management is slack about enforcing the wearing of safety equipment regularly, it will be difficult to take action after an injury accident that was worse because of failure to wear safety equipment.

The reason is important is that, under Kentucky law, employers may not punish an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. An employer who breaks this law may have to pay damages to an employee that could prove very costly.

Firing an employee after he or she has been injured and files a work comp claim, even for an alleged safety issue, can be complicated if there were no standards or the standards were not consistent.

An employer is, however, free to punish violations of workplace rules, including violations of objective and consistently enforced safety standards.

Setting up and enforcing safety standards so as to avoid legal liability is an important legal task.