One of the most important ways to prevent workplace accidents and injuries is to make sure that employees have appropriate safety gear on at all times. For workers who are in high-risk jobs, it can take a long time to put on all of the equipment they need. The time-consuming nature of donning safety equipment has resulted in questions regarding whether employers should pay workers for their time to put on safety gear. Now, the U.S Supreme Court has weighed in on an important case addressing this issue.
Employees need to know their rights when it comes to safety equipment, including both their right to be paid and the right to have all necessary equipment provided to them. Any employee who sustains an injury, regardless of whether he or she had appropriate safety equipment or not, also needs to know how Atlanta workers’ compensation laws provide benefits. An experienced attorney can offer assistance to injured workers and their families in getting their losses covered.
Workplace Safety Equipment Is Integral to Preventing Atlanta work Accidents
Workplace safety equipment is integral to preventing Atlanta work accidents. As a result, the question of whether employers had to pay workers for their time putting it on was an important question. If the answer was no and employers didn’t have to pay, this could lead to workers spending less time than they should putting on safety equipment. It would also undermine the message that using safety equipment was an essential job task.
The good news is, Safety News Alert reports that courts have held employers do need to pay workers for time spent dressing in appropriate safety gear. The use of such equipment is essential to performing job functions, and thus employees should be compensated for taking the time to use it.
A case addressing the issue of worker payments for wearing safety gear has now made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case was brought by workers at a Tyson plant. They sought $2.9 million in back overtime since they had not been paid for the time they spent putting their safety equipment on.
There were several legal questions raised in the case. Tyson argued the workers shouldn’t be paid, and argued they should not be allowed to form a class since there were different categories of workers who had to wear different safety equipment. There was also the problem of the fact no records were kept regarding the time the employees spent putting on their equipment over the years. This was resolved by asking a safety expert to watch videos of the workers donning their gear and then to estimate average daily time spent dressing in their protective equipment. Tyson argued this was an inappropriate method of calculating back pay.
A 6-3 divided Supreme Court, however, ruled the grant of back overtime pay was appropriate and sent the case back to the lower court only to determine how to distribute the $2.9 million. The decision is important because it underscores the essential nature of wearing safety gear at work. Putting on personal protective equipment is a key part of the job in many professions and it is good the court recognizes the rights of workers to be paid for it.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.