Employer on the hook for extra benefits for failure to provide safety equipment
Case name: State ex rel. Glunt Industries, Inc. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio et al., No. 2010-1948 (Ohio 05/10/12).
The Ohio Supreme Court held that an electrician was entitled to additional workers' compensation benefits for his employer's violation of a specific safety requirement.
What it means: In Ohio, an employer's duty to provide safety equipment is not contingent on a worker's request for the safety equipment.
Summary: An electrician alleged that he was told to investigate when his employer experienced a plantwide power failure. He went to the plant's main electrical breaker cabinet, which housed two separate breakers. He was not using or wearing any electrical safety equipment. While he was standing in front of the cabinet, it exploded, and he was seriously injured. The employer admitted that, with the possible exception of gloves, it had not provided the electrician with safety equipment required by state law. The electrician sought additional workers' compensation benefits for the employer's alleged violation of a specific safety requirement. The Ohio Supreme Court held that he was entitled to additional benefits.
The employer believed that the electrician caused the explosion by opening the higher-voltage left breaker panel. The employer asserted that the electrician was not authorized to work on the left breaker panel. However, he could work on equipment with a lower voltage, including the breaker's right-side circuit. This negated the employer's claim that the electrician's presence at the main breaker was unauthorized.
The court found that the employer did not satisfy the requirement to provide safety equipment. The court rejected the employer's claim that the electrician could have requested safety equipment. An employer has a duty to supply safety equipment that is not contingent upon a worker's request.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
July 26, 2012
Copyright 2012© LRP Publications