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True workplace safety requires more than reactivity

Worker's compensation was designed as a system to address the inevitability of on the job accidents and provide the injured worker with medical treatment, wage replacement and retraining if necessary without the need to prove the employer's negligence or fault. In turn, the employee cannot file a personal injury suit against the employer. However, in Texas, worker's comp is optional for most types of business. This has resulted in most Texas employers opting out of worker's comp, but they must have some means available to compensate injured workers.

Workplace safety analysts maintain that a safe work environment is not merely one with a system in place that reacts to and cares for injured workers but is one that proactively creates a culture of safety with the goal of prevention. Management must be invested in creating an atmosphere where workers look out for each other, follow safety guidelines and are not afraid to report non-compliance issues when observed.

When employers establish their commitment to safety, it follows that employees feel more comfortable in engaging in the company's mission far more enthusiastically than typical workers do. The workplace can become more of a community than simply a place to work. This not only promotes the core goal of improving safety, but it also produces far more productive and happy employees.

Despite all efforts to the contrary, if a worker is injured in the scope of employment, the first issue is to determine if the employer has worker's compensation insurance. If not, the company may have nonsubscriber insurance or be self-insuring. In any case, a workplace accident lawyer might help sort out the best approach to address the injuries. The injured worker needs to seek treatment and report the incident to his or her employer and the state of Texas promptly.

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