Holiday workplace safety: OSHA calls attention to areas of concern

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published a list of recommendations for workplace safety during the holiday season. The agency draws attention to three specific areas that can experience an increase in injuries during what is, for some industries, a very busy time of year.

The areas at increased risk are:

  • Retail. It is no surprise those who work in the retail industry will likely experience increased crowds during the holidays. This is particularly true during sales events. Federal law requires employers provide a safe working environment. This includes crowd management. OSHA recommends employers hire additional staff and notify authorities as needed to better ensure employee safety when the employer expects the shopping crowds to be greater than average.
  • Order fulfilment. Those who work within a warehouse are at risk of injuries from forklifts, improper stacking and repetitive motion injuries on a daily basis. The increased demand that comes with holiday purchases can lead to greater risk. The agency encourages employers to make changes to help reduce these risks, particular when the employer expects order frequency to increase. One example: employers can evaluate the flow and volume orders and place frequently ordered items in easily reachable locations.
  • Delivery. The patron's need for prompt deliveries also increases during the holiday season. Dangerous are present in transit as well as during the actual delivery. Employees can suffer an injury in trucking accidents, during coupling or un-coupling of the vehicle and while unloading the tractor.

These are just the dangers OSHA discussed for specific industries. Additional risks are present. Another example that is common during the holiday season includes the use of temporary and young workers. Both groups may not be as well informed of the safety precautions compared to regular employees. As a result, they may be at an increased risk of injury.

Workplace injuries and legal remedies

Maryland state law requires most employers with one or more employees to carry workers' compensation coverage for employees. If the employee is injured while working and the injury is deemed to have occurred "out of and in the course of employment" the employee should receive these benefits. This can include injuries that result from stocking shelves, delivering products and can even extend to include injuries suffered while at a company Christmas party. These benefits should cover medical and hospital costs as well as partial income replacement until the injured employee can return to work.

Unfortunately, not every workers' compensation provider meets their obligations. Those who believe their claim was wrongfully denied or believe they are not receiving the full benefits they are entitled have options. An attorney can review your case and discuss these options in greater detail.