New Jersey residents whose jobs require them to work outside should always take extra precautions whenever there is dangerous weather. They should also be aware of their employers' responsibility regarding addressing hazards that could possibly injure or kill them. Two examples show the dangers of an employer's disregard of potentially dangerous situations and the effect it can have on employees.
One incident involves an event company that opted to continue a scheduled outdoor circus performance despite numerous warnings from the National Weather Service regarding the severe thunderstorms in the area. As a result, the circus tent collapsed, injuring dozens of workers and attendees and killing two people.
The other incident involved a postal worker who collapsed on while on his mail route in weather that had a heat index of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Other employees at the local post office stated that no training had been provided that advised of how to prevent and identify illnesses caused by an overexposure to heat.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited both employers for violating a provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The general duty clause compels employers to identify and respond to hazards that could be injurious or fatal to employees.The event company paid the penalty that was assessed and ceased operations. In the other case, the United States Postal Service negotiated a settlement that included the requirement to implement a program to protect mail carriers from weather with excessively high temperatures.
Employees may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits if they were injured on the job, regardless of whose fault the accident was. However, in situations where the accident was the result of an employer's reckless disregard for safety, an injured victim may want to meet with an attorney to see if there are other alternatives for seeking appropriate damages.