Understanding the Legal and Personal Ramifications of Someone Being Injured on Your Worksite
The risk of not knowing your obligations in regard to your worksite’s safety, having fully document OHS practices in your company, such as a credible safety audit, and knowing how to respond when there is an injury or fatality on your worksite can have huge ramifications on your business and personal life if a employee injury or death takes place. Self insurance programs and other insurance policies paid might not be there to help you because you do not meet their requirements. A situation could blow-up in your face, and it will probably continue for many years.
If you are an owner operator of your own trades based company you are probably pretty aware of the safety requirements needed on each site. Understand the details of the law and understanding safety are two different things. At the same time, because of your experience, you know what is safe and what will get you in trouble. The idea of paying consultants to teach you what is necessary for a safety audit probably does not sit well with your idea of a good financial investment. You know how the situation works, and you have already been through getting your worksite approved many times. Government inspectors might come and check out your current workplace, but in most cases, it won’t happen. You have insurance to cover yourself and your company, and you know what is safe or not. In most cases, nothing goes wrong, and there is rarely an issue. The question you should be asking yourself is what would happen if something drastic does go wrong. There will be some concrete steps you will need to take.
- Ambulance. Getting immediate medical attention for someone who has been hurt or seriously injured on a worksite will be the first major issue you have to deal with. Staying calm in a situation where someone could die in front of your eyes is not a situation you can prepare for. Anyone working as a foreman, manager or owner operator should have good knowledge of first aid. It is those crucial minutes before the ambulance arrives that make all the difference. Giving your contractor or employee the most possible help is not only a legal obligation it is something you will have to deal with on a personal level for a lot longer time.
- Getting Advice. The next thing you will be doing is calling your government body for assistance and advice on what to do regarding the situation. Most countries will have a government body to help you deal with a worksite injury. Each country will vary in the level of advice and real assistance they can give. In countries like Australia and New Zealand, the government body of concern will step in and take care of the injured worker, contractor or employer for the immediate future. This assistance is not unlimited, and it is not without cost.
- Insurance. It is very easy to think you have a huge level of insurance, or even your own self insurance strategy to deal with this type of situation before it happens. There is a bill mounting from your government agency, and they will be looking to recover those funds. You can be certain that your insurance company will investigate all matters of safety both in terms of commonsense and in terms of your legal requirements as a contracting company.
- Potential Dangers. If it is found by the insurance company you were negligent or not compliant with OHS laws and regulations, they will have grounds not to cover the costs that have been incurred. A long and painful legal situation can erupt in your face. The government body will want to be repaid, and the insurance company will be doing their best not to cover you. Your employee will have other options to sue your for work related injuries and these costs could mount into the many thousands of dollars and the legal’s battles could continue for many years.
There are some simple ways to avoid all those problems. Having a consultant to assist you through your legal OHS requirements and assist you with the correct and effective documentation for each job and worksite where you operate. Many small trades business owner operators take the risk of not having such support. When something goes wrong, what will you do?
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