Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Injured Workers Drunk on Job Get Work Comp

So now you are responsible for your workers who are intoxicated too. After all, it is not their fault they showed up to work drunk.
Let him sleep it off somewhere.....

Drunken Workers Injured on the Job Still Get Workers Compensation after NM Democrats Block Bill

From: www.daily-times.com

SANTA FE — The case of a drunken Las Cruces city worker who fell off his garbage truck, then sued and was awarded more than $100,000 in workers' compensation benefits did not move Democrats on a legislative panel.
They blocked a bill late Thursday that would have given judges the flexibility to deny all or most benefits to intoxicated workers who are hurt on the job.
Led by House Speaker Ken Martinez of Grants, Democrats on the House Labor and Human Resources Committee effectively killed the bill.
It was sponsored by Republican Rep. Dennis Roch, but actually was suggested by the New Mexico Court of Appeals because of conflicting state laws on what injury benefits — if any — a drunken worker is entitled to.
Roch, of Texico, said in an interview that he introduced House Bill 139 to clean up the contradictory laws and enable judges to make sound decisions based on the facts of each individual case.
Roch said he took up the cause because of the 3-year-old Court of Appeals decision in which the Las Cruces worker, Edward Villa, essentially was rewarded for driving his garbage truck while intoxicated and then injuring himself.
Villa's case began when he fell off the garbage truck on April 7, 2006. Hospital workers smelled alcohol on his breath. Three hours after Villa was injured, his blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.12, well above the level for a drunken-driving conviction.
He fell off the truck after he and his supervisor tried to free a bin from the truck's hopper.
A workers' compensation judge took note of Villa's drunkenness, but said nobody could prove that it was the sole cause of his injury.
"Worker was working on a very small ledge, and anyone might have slipped off it," the judge stated.
Because of the conflicting state laws, Villa then was awarded 90 percent of the benefits he sought.
A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals said it reluctantly upheld the award.
It wrote this in its decision: "The case highlights the lack of clarity some observers find in the language of several state statutes concerning benefits available for on-the-job accidents when a worker is found to be under the influence of various drugs or alcohol. One 1989 statute bars compensation when an injury is ‘occasioned by the intoxication' of the worker. A related statute, enacted in 2001, says compensation can be reduced by 10 percent if intoxication or the influence of drugs is 'a contributing cause to the injury.'"
The appeals court said that, for Villa to lose all his benefits under existing laws, it needed proof that his drunkenness was the only reason for his injuries. That was not established, so Villa was docked 10 percent of his benefits, consistent with the other state law.
Roch said his bill would have ended the contradictions. Judges would weigh the facts on a case-by-case basis, then decide what percentage of benefits a drunken or drugged worker should lose.
The labor committee chairman, Democratic Rep. Miguel Garcia of Albuquerque, said Roch's bill was flawed.
“There were some due process issues with it that were punitive to the worker,” Garcia said in an interview. 
Roch said his bill would have made New Mexico a better place for workers.
"What's often forgotten is that this is not just about the drunk driving a forklift. It's about the other 15 people working with him," he said.
Roch said his reform bill was dead for this session.
After being blocked by the committee, the bill cannot be revived short of extraordinary means. A majority of the full 70-member House of Representatives would have to agree to hear it — an unlikely possibility given opposition from the speaker of the House.
Milan Simonich, Santa Fe bureau chief of Texas-New Mexico Newspapers, his blog is at nmcapitolreport.com

See the video: Chicago_City_Worker_Busted_Drunk:

Mean while, in Amsterdam (04/2010)...

Workers from Carlsberg brewery in Amsterdam walked out on Thursday because of newly enforced rules on workplace drinking leading to the removal of beer coolers from work sites.
The company's new alcohol policy allow them to drink beer only during lunch at the canteen. They used to be able to drink throughout the day from coolers provided by the bosses.
The warehouse and production workers in Denmark are rebelling against the company's new alcohol policy, which allows them to drink beer only during lunch hours in the canteen. Previously, they could help themselves to beer throughout the day, from coolers placed around the work sites.

The only restriction was "that you could not be drunk at work. It was up to each and everyone to be responsible," said company spokesman Jens Bekke.
Although the company had thought about changing their policy for years, they finally imposed the new rules on April 1st. It caused 800 workers to strike and 250 to walk off their jobs.

And the truck drivers even joined in for support even though they are immune to the rules! They are allowed to bring three beers from the canteen because they often don't have time to have lunch there.

But don't fear, the trucks have alcohol ignition locks that prevent the drivers from driving drunk.

 Thank you for reading.


Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing. I found this post to be very informative and helpful.

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Unknown said...

While it seems weird that the company should be held responsible for such occasions, it should be pointed out that management, or whoever handles the personnel, should be more vigilant on worker behavior and activities. That he was able to drink on work shows a sort of lack in the workplace that some people might abuse.


Unknown said...

Had this been a vehicle-related accident, the one who would’ve been sued was the worker. But since it did result in personal injury while at work, he did have the premise for a case. Though I still find it ridiculous that he won with only a 10% deduction on the benefits, considering that the alcohol level that was measured off him was well above the regulated levels to be considered drunk-driving, more so if the man was the one driving the truck.

Maggie @ Mastrangelo Law

Anonymous said...

Although, it is the worker's fault he fell off that garbage truck out of drunkenness, his employers are still liable for the incident since it happened at the work place and caused injury. Also, it is not proven that is solely the alcohol that caused the accident. But whatever it might be, let's hope it serves as lesson for his co-workers to stay sober when going to work. Cheryl@CWCLawFirm.com

Unknown said...

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Injured at Work

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