safety goggles, construction helmet, work boots, and gloves piled together

If an Employee Does Not Use Safety Equipment, Can They Still Recover Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Hard hats on construction sites. Non-slip shoes in a restaurant kitchen. Protective glasses in a factory. In some professional roles, using safety equipment is a job requirement. There is a known risk of injury in these roles, but with the proper safety equipment, employees can protect themselves from those risks.

Every employee isn’t going to be as cautious as their workplace’s safety inspector would like them to be, and may not utilize their safety equipment for a number of reasons. Does eschewing safety equipment have consequences if the employee is injured and attempts to file a workers’ compensation claim? Can their choice, forgetfulness, or lack of preparation because of employer negligence impact their benefits?

It is an Employer’s Responsibility to Provide Safety Equipment

Companies must give their workers the necessary tools to protect themselves from being injured on the job. An employer who fails to do this could be responsible for any harm that results from their negligence, but may not be liable in a workers’ compensation case. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, so employees do not have to prove that their employer contributed to their injuries in order to recover benefits. The employer’s fault should not increase workers’ benefits, in most cases. Employees who file workers’ compensation claims also waive their right to sue their employer by doing so.

However, failing to provide safety equipment to employees could be defined as gross negligence. In certain situations, a worker may be able to sue their employer if their disregard for safety is seen as so careless that further legal action is necessary.

Workers Can Still Receive Benefits if They are Partially Responsible for Their Injuries

Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, employees are also excused from liability in their claims. A worker’s benefits, in most cases, will not be reduced because they were partially at fault for their injuries. If an injury occurred because an employee forgot to use safety equipment or was not wearing their equipment for a short period of time, they should still be able to recover benefits.

Workers’ compensation claims can be denied if the injury victim endangered themselves by acting recklessly, being intoxicated on the job, or otherwise engaging in misconduct. Some instances of not using safety equipment could qualify as misconduct. However, even these incidents can be attributed to employer fault because they are responsible for overseeing the safety of their workforce.

Contact The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC if you were injured at work. Our attorneys can help you navigate your workers’ compensation claim and represent you if your employer tries to deny your benefits.

Call (770) 629-9321 or send us your information to reach our team and schedule a free case evaluation.
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