Your Legal Resource Throughout Eastern Iowa
Workers’ Compensation | Workplace Safety
Workers’ Compensation | Workplace Safety
Did you know that you do not have to risk your life to keep your job? Recently, the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez, said, “No one should have to sacrifice their life for their livelihood, because a nation built on the dignity of work must provide safe working conditions for its people.”
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, protects a worker’s right to speak up about violations of safety and health and other laws. OSHA recently investigated the case of a truck driver who was fired for refusing to drive a company vehicle pulled from service by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Iowa commercial motor vehicle enforcement ticketed a Jake Rieger tractor-trailer truck driver for operating an unsafe tractor-trailer truck and lacking proper state registration. The driver was directed to a repair shop, contacted his employer and returned to Nebraska. OSHA’s investigation found that a co-worker drove the employee back to the repair shop in Iowa to retrieve the truck. Jake Rieger Farms LLC told the driver to bring the vehicle, which still lacked proper registration, back to Nebraska and to start driving after law enforcement personnel left the area. When the driver refused, the company immediately fired him and forced him to find his own transportation home to Nebraska, a distance of about 170 miles.
OSHA found Nebraska-based Jake Rieger Farms LLC violated the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982. OSHA ordered Jake Rieger Farms LLC to pay the driver $25,000 in punitive damages and $30,000 in compensatory damages, which includes back wages, repayment for tickets paid by the driver that were issued by the Iowa DOT, attorney fees, transportation back to Nebraska and compensation for distress. “No worker should face termination for complying with federal laws which protect the safety of the motoring public,” said Marcia Drumm, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City. “In this case, Jake Rieger Farms retaliated against an employee who refused to drive a truck that Iowa law enforcement deemed unsafe. His employer fired him on the spot and left him to find his way home to Nebraska. OSHA is committed to protecting the rights of any worker to refuse unsafe and unlawful orders from their employer.”
With additional questions about workers’ compensation, schedule a free initial consultation by calling 319-366-7888.
Workers’ compensation is a critical system in place to protect employees who suffer from workplace injuries or illnesses, ensuring they receive the necessary medical attention and financial support during their recovery. Common workplace injuries range from strains and sprains, fractures, cuts, burns, to more severe cases like chronic illnesses due to long-term exposure to harmful substances, or injuries resulting from machinery malfunctions. The nature of these injuries can vary significantly across different industries, with some sectors being more prone to specific types of accidents.
Workers’ compensation plays a vital role in the construction industry, a field well-known for its high-risk work environments and the potential for severe accidents. Construction accidents can range from falls, machinery malfunctions, electrocutions, to being struck by falling objects, each bringing their own set of challenges in terms of both prevention and compensation. The intricate nature of construction work necessitates a thorough understanding of workers’ compensation laws to ensure that injured workers receive the appropriate medical care and financial support.
The roofing industry is notorious for its perilous working conditions, with employees routinely exposed to the risks of falls, equipment mishaps, and adverse weather conditions. Workers’ compensation serves as a vital safety net for roofing professionals, providing essential medical benefits and wage replacement in the unfortunate event of a workplace accident. Roofing accidents can result in a wide array of injuries, ranging from broken bones and concussions to more severe, life-altering conditions.
The manufacturing sector, with its heavy machinery, high-paced environment, and complex processes, is a hotspot for workplace accidents, making workers’ compensation a crucial component of employee welfare. Manufacturing accidents can vary widely, from machinery-related injuries, exposure to harmful substances, repetitive strain injuries, to severe accidents resulting in long-term disability or fatality. Navigating the workers’ compensation system in the event of a manufacturing accident requires a thorough understanding of both the legal framework and the specific nature of manufacturing injuries.
Workers in nursing homes play a crucial role in providing care and support to elderly and vulnerable populations, yet they are frequently exposed to a range of occupational hazards that can lead to serious injuries. From lifting and assisting residents, handling medical equipment, to potential exposure to infectious diseases, nursing home employees face daily risks that underscore the importance of comprehensive workers’ compensation coverage. Injuries in this sector may include back and shoulder strains, slips and falls, needlestick injuries, and more, each requiring immediate attention and adequate compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages.
Volunteer emergency service employees provide invaluable contributions to their communities, often placing themselves in harm’s way to assist others during crises. However, the very nature of their work exposes them to a high risk of injury, making workers’ compensation a crucial consideration. From responding to accidents, natural disasters, to medical emergencies, these volunteers face potential injuries such as sprains, fractures, burns, exposure to hazardous materials, and psychological trauma.
Workers’ compensation benefits serve as a vital safety net for employees who sustain injuries or illnesses as a result of their work, providing essential financial support and access to medical care. These benefits encompass a range of provisions, including medical expense coverage, compensation for lost wages, disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and in some tragic instances, death benefits for the dependents of workers who have lost their lives on the job.
Navigating the intricacies of workers’ compensation in Eastern Iowa can be a daunting task, fraught with complex legal procedures and specific regional policies. Employees who have sustained injuries or illnesses on the job are often met with a barrage of questions about their rights, the extent of coverage they can receive, and the process for filing a claim.
With over 30 years of experience in successfully navigating clients through their workers’ comp claims, Mark Chipokas is a dedicated attorney with a deep understanding of workers’ compensation law, committed to helping his clients maximize their benefits.