Manufacturing workers risk injury every day at their jobs. All the moving parts and heavy machinery, as well as dangerous or abrasive chemicals are risk factors for employee accidents. Even those who try to do everything they can to stay safe could still wind up hurt.
Getting hurt on the job can change your life in a number of ways. A work injury can result in ongoing pain or issues with your strength and flexibility. More severe injuries, like broken bones, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), can keep you from working your job in the same way you always have. For some people, work injuries can result in permanent disability, meaning that they will never be able to return to work again.
Other workers have injuries that limit their abilities but do not entirely preclude them from working. These employees could potentially return to work if their employers will make accommodations.
Manufacturing is often very physical work, but there are usually some positions that require less movement than others. A worker who can no longer stand on the production line all day, for example, could drive a hi-lo to move supplies and products. Workers who can’t perform the same task for long periods of time could float from station to station or take on administrative work.
Some workers could need a work station close to a bathroom, while others may require physical supports, like a foot rest or even a wheelchair ramp. Taking regular breaks or needing to perform physical therapy exercises are also common accommodations for injured workers.
As long as the accommodation you need won’t cause undue hardship for your employer, they should take the necessary steps to help you return to work. Failing to do that is actually a violation of your rights.
Maintaining a job is often critical to people recovering from severe injuries. They may have financial issues due to missing work, even if they receive temporary disability benefits from workers’ compensation. Returning to work can also help an employee process the emotions that resulted from their accident and provide a sense of purpose and routine during recovery.
Under federal employment laws you have the right to reasonable accommodations from your employer. You also have the right to be free from retaliation for requesting accommodations related to a workplace injury. If your employer refuses to help you return to work or make your work safe for you during recovery, you don’t have to simply accept that mistreatment.
Fighting back can mean that you receive the help you need to continue working. It could also prevent the same situation from happening to someone else at your work in the future.