The Risk of Workplace Injuries during the Coronavirus Outbreak
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone, and this is especially true with front-line workers. Georgia and most other states have “stay-at-home” orders in place, which means that most people who are still working are doing so remotely. However, there are certain essential workers who have no choice but to be out on the front lines doing their jobs and doing their part to keep our society functioning.
Among those workers whose jobs are considered “essential” include:
- Hospital workers who are treating those who have tested positive for the coronavirus;
- Farmers who grow and produce our food;
- Factory workers who are producing essential goods like toilet paper, sanitizer, and face masks;
- Truck drivers who transport our food and other essential supplies to our cities and towns;
- Workers at grocery stores and other stores where essential goods are sold;
- Delivery drivers who bring our essentials to our homes so we do not have to go out and face exposure to the virus;
- Power and utility workers who keep our electricity on;
- Telecom workers who help ensure that we continue to enjoy fast internet speeds.
There are other “essential” workers that we do not hear as much about. For example, work on most Atlanta construction sites continues, with many workers having to put in overtime as others have become ill due to the virus. Home services such as plumbing, electrical, and roof repair are also considered essential for homeowners who are faced with major issues that require immediate attention. Entering different houses each day is another potential viral exposure risk these workers are taking on order to service their customers.
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused some unique difficulties that are heightening the risk of workers getting injured on the job:
New Hires to Fill Essential Positions
While many businesses have shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, others have had to ramp up their hiring to meet rapidly growing demand. So many new hires all at once has caused chaos in many industries, often resulting in little or no time to train for the job and learn important safety procedures.
The Rapid Trend Toward Telecommuting
With many business locations having to close, a large percentage of the workforce has rapidly transitioned to telecommuting. While there are a lot of potential advantages to having employees work from home, there are a lot of challenges with this approach as well. Among these is the lack of oversight of the employee’s work environment.
But whether an employee works from home or at the office, the employer is responsible for maintaining workplace safety. Unfortunately, in a rush to maintain operations, the safety of remote workers has been overlooked in many cases.
Injuries from Stress and Overexertion
Front-line workers are being asked to put in long hours and massive amounts of overtime (in many cases) to keep up with demand for the product or service. This on top of the stress of having to go to work in public where there is a higher risk of contracting the virus is more than many workers can take. In an environment like this, there is a much greater chance of developing workplace injuries due to overexertion.
Injuries Caused by Third Parties
In many essential industries, there is a lot of interaction with the public. In others (such as construction sites), employees routinely work alongside third-party subcontractors who are performing specialized tasks. Of particular concern is the number of truck drivers and other delivery drivers bringing us our essential goods. With more drivers out there comes the increased risk of vehicle accidents and injuries that are caused (at least in part) by other motorists.
When a workplace injury results from the negligence of a party other than the employer, an injured employee may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the responsible party. This would allow them to recover damages over and above any benefits that would be available through workers’ compensation.
Suffered a Workplace Injury in Georgia? Contact Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. for Assistance
If you or a loved one got hurt on the job, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you review all of your legal rights and options. It could be that there are multiple avenues for recovering compensation, and there is no risk in getting your case evaluated to find out what they might be.
At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we want you to know that we are still fully operational even our nation deals with the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. The health and well-being of our clients remains our number one priority, and toward that end, we are taking all of the precautions and following all of the social distancing guidelines. Although we are mostly working remotely these days, we have the technology and resources to continue providing the strong personalized representation our clients have come to expect from us.
For a free consultation and case assessment with a member of our legal team, message us online or call our Atlanta office today at (678) 981-5370. We look forward to serving you!