Workplace equipment can endure a lot of heavy abuse, especially in industries like construction or transportation. That equipment can break down and become a danger to employees is one reason that responsible employers incorporate routine maintenance checks into their risk management programs. But broken or badly maintained equipment can still end up in use, and workers can be injured as a consequence.
Equipment maintenance and the law
Nevada employers have an affirmative duty to maintain their work environments in a condition that is safe for employees. Under the standards set by Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), NRS 618 et seq., and its related regulations, employers with at least eleven employees are required to adopt formal safety programs, which among other things should address potential hazards like wear and tear on dangerous equipment.
OSHA is a regulatory program enforced by the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations (DIR). Although employees can make complaints to the DIR about safety problems at work, they are not able to take direct legal action themselves against their employers for safety violations. The DIR may respond to complaints by pursuing investigations into safety violations, which may result in fines and, in extreme cases, litigation.
Bad equipment and workers’ compensation
Workers who are injured by inadequately maintained equipment can be surprised to learn that their only recourse for recovery may be workers’ compensation. Nevada’s workers’ compensation system has several features that come into play. First, it is an exclusive remedy, which bars most personal injury lawsuits against employers who comply with their workers’ comp obligations. Second, it is no-fault insurance, which means that an injured employee will be covered for any injury arising in the course of employment, regardless of who is to blame.
An exception to the exclusive remedy exists for an employer’s intentional acts that are intended to cause harm to an employee. If, for example, an agent of the employer (a manager, for example) deliberately sabotages a piece of equipment knowing that it creates a hazard for employees, an injured employee can pursue direct litigation against the employer and the employee who caused the injury. Note that even if an employer has behaved irresponsibly, for example by requiring workers to use equipment that hasn’t been properly maintained, the most likely recourse remains workers’ compensation.
For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. If you have been injured on the job, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your situation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.