The Possible Cause of Many North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Disasters: Part 1: Identifying the Problem

November 25, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’re a prospective North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiary, or the relative or friend of someone who was recently hurt or injured at work (e.g. hurt while doing construction outside of Raleigh or sickened by repetitive stress syndrome contracted while working at a bank in the Research Triangle), you want help with getting fair compensation, holding wrongdoers accountable, and making sure insurers play fair.

Tackling all of these issues is of paramount importance. However, you may also want to analyze the broader context and think about why workplace accidents and injuries happen every year in North Carolina and beyond.

Are workers simply careless and negligent? Are employers careless or negligent? Is the system structured in a way that creates opportunities for injury/illness?

Perhaps. Perhaps. And perhaps.

However, there may be a “hidden cause” lurking underneath many workers’ comp cases. It’s a cause that doesn’t place blame employees or employers or even the system. The problem is a fundamentally human one. It’s the problem of creeping complacency.

Let’s analyze this.

When a new employee finds a job, he or she tends to enter the arena cautiously. New employees are more likely to listen to a supervisor’s instructions, handle complex machinery with care, and avoid overly ambitious or dangerous working conditions, such as working while fatigued, working without supervision, ignoring the company’s safety policies, etc. Likewise, employers tent to “dote on” new employees, putting them through rigorous reviews, following them through intra-company educational processes, and firing workers who violate company norms.

Dial forward several years (or, in some cases, several months), and that caution vanishes, or at least diminishes. Lassitude develops. Workers are allowed – or even encouraged – to push their limits, to “bend or break the rules” to get more done in less time and for less money. For instance, a construction worker, who in his first three months of working on a job would never use a sophisticated and dangerous piece of equipment without help, might, by month eight on the job, use that piece of equipment by himself, late at night, and without paying attention.

Which worker is going to be safer: The attentive rookie or the over-confident veteran?

Of course, “the complacency problem” is not the only fundamental cause of workplace injuries or illnesses, but it is one that is not discussed enough.

For specific help with a benefits question, connect with a time-tested and trusted North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

The cost of complacency

How we become careless


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