The most common on-the-job causes of death are motor vehicle accidents. Truck and delivery drivers along with sales workers who travel are among the occupations with the highest on-the-job fatality rates.
Motor vehicle accidents, even when they do not result in death, are a common cause of on-the-job injuries.
OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has issued guidelines for workers who drive.
Not surprisingly OSHA’S first guideline is to use a seat belt at all times.
Missouri workers’ compensation law provides that, in some circumstance, a worker’s recovery under workers’ compensation can be reduced for failure to wear a seat belt.
The law reads: Where the injury is caused by the failure of the employee to use safety devices where provided by the employer, or from the employee’s failure to obey any reasonable rule adopted by the employer for the safety of employees, the compensation and death benefit provided for herein shall be reduced at least twenty-five but not more than fifty percent; provided, that it is shown that the employee had actual knowledge of the rule so adopted by the employer; and provided, further, that the employer had, prior to the injury, made a reasonable effort to cause his or her employees to use the safety device or devices and to obey or follow the rule so adopted for the safety of the employees.
A seat belt is a safety device under the statute.
The litigation that has taken place has focused on whether the employer made a reasonable effort to cause an employee to use the safety device.
In the case of Elsworth v. Wayne City, the court did not reduce the workers’ compensation award. The driver who was severely injured had been on the job less than a month. The court looked at the fact that there was no training program and the employer had not monitored employee compliance.
In the case of Buescher v. Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission, the court found the employer had a clear rule requiring employees to wear seatbelts at all times and the rule was posted in a conspicuous place. The penalty was not imposed because the employer failed to establish that the injury was caused by the failure to use a seat belt.
Numerous cases have found that such an employer’s reasonable effort to cause the employer to use a safety device can include: distribution of written safety materials; scheduling and presentation of regular training seminars to educate their employees about their safety rules and devices; warning employees that disciplinary action will be taken if employees fail to follow necessary safety guidelines; giving employees written tests to confirm they understand employer’s safety rules; and having a history of punishing known safety rule violations.
Because an employee is at fault for causing an accident does not mean that the employee is not entitled to receive workers compensation benefits.
Because an employee was not using a seat belt, does not mean that his benefits will be cut.
There is one way that an employee can avoid having his benefits under workers compensation cut because of failure to wear a seat belt: wear your seat belt.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident while working, give Dean Law Office LLC a call, 816-753-3100. Free consultation. No fee, if no recovery.
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Posted in Workers' Compensation.