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November 18, 2014

Is it Enough to Provide Safety Gear, or Do You Have to Make ‘em Use It?

In a recent court case, a company argued that the law only required it to supply safety devices, not be the “watchdog of careless employees” and make sure they actually use them. Did the court buy that reasoning?

While the provide-versus-use argument involving safety equipment has been argued previously by various courts, it usually involves OSHA fines. In this case it involves a workers’ comp case.

Why? Because New Mexico workers’ comp law calls for a 10% increase in benefits to injured workers when a company’s failure to supply a safety device leads to the injury. And in a recent case, one of the points argued was whether “supply” means simply “provide” or “provide and make sure your employees use it.”

First, the details of how the injury occurred:

Sara Benavides worked as a registered nurse for Eastern New Mexico Medical Center. One day while walking into a patient’s room, she slipped and fell on a wet floor, seriously injuring her right leg, right hip, lower back and neck. She received the maximum workers’ comp benefits for temporary total disability.

Years later, Benavides was still receiving benefits. Her employer sought a permanent determination of benefits in her case. At that time, Benavides requested a 10% increase in benefits due to a failure to supply a safety device. She claimed “wet floor” signs are safety devices, and none were placed on the floor that had just been mopped by housekeeping on the day she slipped and fell.

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Related Training DVDs:

Personal Protective Equipment PPE Training DVD

safety gearCreated to assist facilities in complying with OSHA’s Standard on Personal Protective Equipment. View Product

Workers Compensation Training Video

safety gear Train your workers with Summit’s Workers’ Compensation program and control the costs. View Product

Slips, Trips & Falls Training Video

safety gear Shows employees the situations that can lead to slips, trips and falls, and what they can do to avoid or prevent these accidents. View Product

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