Regardless of the industry, employers in California are responsible for the health and safety of employees. A part of that responsibility involves personal protective equipment. From bakeries to construction sites, employees are exposed to hazards that could cause workplace injuries or illnesses if they do not have the necessary PPE.
Along with the dangers posed by heavy equipment, other hazards include radiological, chemical, mechanical, physical and electrical risks in various work environments. Personal protective equipment necessary for different jobs include coveralls, reflective vests, fall arrest harnesses, hard hats, gloves and safety boots. Safety glasses to protect the eyes, and earmuffs or plugs for hearing protection are crucial, and so are respirators in hazardous atmospheres.
The duty of an employer does not stop with providing employees with PPE. Safety training must include instructions on which gear is necessary for which task, when it must be used, and why. Workers must learn the proper way in which to put the PPE on, and also how to adjust it, wear it, take it off and maintain the equipment. Employers have to ensure that each worker’s PPE fits properly because ill-fitting equipment can cause injuries instead of preventing them. It is also crucial for employers to monitor the use of PPE by workers.
Victims of workplace injuries in California are typically entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, if serious or catastrophic injuries were suffered due to the lack of proper personal protective equipment, it might constitute gross negligence by the employer, in which case there might be grounds for a civil lawsuit. An attorney with experience in both workers’ compensation and personal injury laws can assess the circumstances and explain the injured worker’s legal options, and help to obtain maximum compensation under applicable laws.