One minute you’re following a manager’s instructions, then minutes later, there’s a serious injury. Managers all throughout Charlotte issue orders and commands that put their employees at risk. Some are aware of the risk factor. Others are not. Stupid mistakes made by people at work happen all the time, and even honest mistakes often have someone responsible tied to the resulting injuries.
Understand what happens to injured employees when their managers issue directions that put employees at risk. You don’t have to follow instructions blindly, but there may be several unexpected elements present in these cases, and if you’re looking for the opportunity to move forward with your case, then you may need to explore legal action with the help of a workers’ comp attorney in Charlotte, NC.
Differences Between Policy, Procedure, and Standard Practices
Many employees aren’t aware that there are strict differences between policies, procedures, and standard practices. A policy is a company document that specifies certain requirements, or criteria and lays out clear expectations. Usually, policies will have very vague language such as “… employees must always take safety precautions.” And those types of statements exist so that employers can come back and explain that an employee violated company policy and therefore, cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Procedures give a play-by-play of specific actions. For example, a company may have certain procedures for using heavy equipment or machines, which could be dangerous. You should expect a company to have lockout, tagout procedures, as well as procedures for handling any type of equipment. These procedures should outline in great detail exactly what safety precautions are necessary for that task, such as, “1. Apply all safety gear, including eyewear protection, gloves, arm guards, and steel-toe boots.”
Procedures can help you show that the standard procedure is not conductive or does not fully explain the required safety precautions for a task.
Then there is standard practice, and this is just referring to “how things are done” for example, if the company has machine guards but doesn’t require them to be closed when the machine is running, that is standard practice. Most of the time, standard procedure will come with managerial direction to defy or ignore company policies and documented procedures.
Building a Case Against the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company
Usually, the defense that a workers’ compensation insurance company will use is that the employee was violating company policy or procedure in one way or another. Then, it’s up to the employee to prove that they were following a manager’s instructions or going along with what is standard practice.
You can use witnesses, as well as audio or video surveillance footage, to show that your accident happened because everyone was violating the policy. Or that the policy was never held in effect by the management staff. This issue is often the case, and an employer will draft a policy and standard procedure to protect themselves and then rely on their management teams to work in ways that they feel are more efficient or eliminate time-sucking safety procedures.
How This Can Change Your Relationship with Your Employer
When fighting a workers’ compensation denial because of something like violating policy can change your relationship with your employer. In some cases, the employer will use the policy violation to terminate employment. However, many realize that the risk of being sued for retaliation is too high in those scenarios.
There’s also the day to day element in that managers may be told not to talk to you in anything other than an instructional manner. Additionally, you may spend a lot of time in HR, answering questions about safety and reporting issues.
Talk with an Attorney if You Were Hurt While Following a Manager’s Instructions
After any issue turns into a he-said, she-said scenario, it’s always difficult to bring it back into a professional realm. Now, workers’ compensation companies all throughout North Carolina use this tactic to divert or outright deny workers’ compensation claims that are just or deserved. If you were following directions and did not realize the danger that it put you and your coworkers in then, you need legal support.
Our North Carolina workers’ compensation law office will dissect the manager’s requests, the policies, and other documentation along with your statement. We’ll not only help you build a strong application, but we’ll help you build a case if you need to take this matter to court. Contact North Carolina Workers’ Compensation for support from start to finish with your workers’ compensation case.