When you work with your hands there's always a chance of injury. But you wouldn't expect a simple scrape or cut to take you away from your job for weeks on end, would you? If you don't know where the materials you're handling come from, it just might.
This is what Stephan Stewart claims happened to him. While working at the Walmart Distribution center in Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania for Walmart contractor Rehring Penn Logistics, Stewart cut his hand while cleaning pallets, according to The Pennsylvania Record. Stewart claims that the cut resulted in numerous surgical procedures that included being put into a medically induced coma.
Stewart is suing Walmart for negligence in keeping the area safe and for negligent training of employees, isn't this covered by OSHA?
OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and it establishes rules and handles matters relating to workplace safety and health. Its intent is to make employers have an environment free of dangerous health and safety conditions that can cause injury, illness, or death.
OSHA rules are one way that an employer might have a legal duty in a negligence case. If an employer breaks an OSHA rule that leads to the injury of a worker, it might be liable for a fine to OSHA and it can be evidence of the employer's negligence.
Here, the cut sustained by Stewart was caused when he reached inside a pallet to clean it. There is no report saying whether he was wearing gloves or not, which could be an issue in any case because it could prove employee training or safety measures that were taken.
Besides the causation issue with whether there were proper safety measures taken, there is also the causation issue with whether it was the original on-the-job injury that actually caused the multiple surgeries.
Stewart would only be able to recover if he can show that there was a dangerous material on the pallet that was known about and not broadcast to employees and that the material is what caused the severity of his injuries.
So be sure to make your employer, no matter if it's Walmart or the local five and dime, aware of any dangerous conditions at your job, or warn your employees properly to avoid injury and litigation.