Many usually think that offices and other places of employment (except construction sites and other industrial working environments) are places safe from accidents. Not likely the case! This is why the Occupational Safety and Health Act (or OSH Act) was passed into law in 1970, to make sure that employees are provided (by their employers) with safe and healthful working environments. The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor, in facts, says that offices are places where accidents frequently occur.
The most common injuries suffered office workers, based on records, are repetitive strain injuries, sprains and strains, neck, head and/or back injuries, and electrocution. These are usually caused by any of the following: Trips/slips or falls, overexertion and strains, improper storing of office materials in the storage room or in working areas, poor indoor ventilation, air quality and lighting, electrical wiring across hallways or working areas, and, disturbing noise.
The law firm Robert Wilson & Associates says that office environments, although not on the list of highly-hazardous work environments, present their own dangers. Injuries in the office may even be severe enough to cause short-term or long-term disabilities and therefore may qualify an accident victim for workers’ compensation benefits. However, filing a successful workers’ compensation claim can be a difficult process, and many claims get rejected for small, technical errors. It would may be an advantage for an injured employee to seek legal assistance from an experienced office injuries attorney who may be able to help make a strong case for the approval and release of Workers’ Comp benefits sought by the injured employee.
OSH Act is not the only law that employers are required to observe, though. There are also the rules which are strictly enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These rules, which are embodied in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, illegalize discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring, promotion, wages, fringe benefits, job training, firing, referral, etc., on the basis of race, national origin, color, sex or religion.
One specific form of abuse and discrimination suffered by employees, especially before 1991, was sexual harassment. The, EEOC, according to the New York City sexual harassment lawyers of Cary Kane LLP, considers the following as sexual harassment acts:
- Demands for sex as a condition of employment
- Unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct that affects a person’s ability to do their job properly because it is so offensive, intimidating, or abusive
- Requests for sexual favors
- Inappropriate physical contact, including touching, kissing, hugging, standing too close or intentionally brushing up against a person
- Sexually explicit or suggestive comments, jokes, teasing, or innuendo
- Commentary or questions about the victim’s sex life, body, or clothing
- Displaying, posting, or circulating in the workplace emails, pictures, cartoons, or other written or graphic material of a sexually explicit, demeaning, or obscene nature
- Verbal abuse or derogatory comments of a sexual or gender-specific nature
- Staring, leering, whistling, or obscene gestures.
Sexual harassment, as well as acts of negligence of carelessness in an office environment which results to accidents and injuries, can be committed by anyone: an employer, a manager, a senior co-employee or an co-employee of the same rank. Like the right of an injured employee to seek compensation for his/her work-related injuries, an employee who is or has been suffering from sexual harassment can seek help from the EEOC to make the unjust act stop or, if it has caused him/her sufferings and damages, to seek compensation for whatever harm he/she might have already suffered.