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Sick and cant do anything about it?!?!

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  • Sick and cant do anything about it?!?!

    Im a supervisor at a meat packing plant. The safety manager told us that we were not allowed to send people home sick if they refused to go to the doctor or seek treatment in the plant. The plant does not have any type of medical staff employed of any kind. I gave him a scenario that if the sick employee was to fall or get hurt or hurt(or kill) someone, who was liable for this? He said I was because he is my employee. Even though the safety manager told me to do this and he is one of my superiors. Is he correct that if im not allowed to send a sick person home with say a cold or flu or a bad headache something that would just take over the counter medicine and no need to spend the money to see a doctor? He also informed us that he changed the policy a long time ago that the plant would no longer hand out things like tylenol or pepto bismol and we never found out until today. Is there anything that I can do to where im not the one taking the hit for what he told me to do? Thanks for your time.

  • #2
    You cannot be held personally liable. Accidents happen. Illness happens. Having a contagious person working in a meat packing plant could very well be in violation of health ordinances or OSHA guidelines.

    Engr & Safety Mgr?
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      Having worked in manufacturing once upon a time, I can see what is behind such a policy. The employer needs X number of employees on site on any given shift in order to function. My educated guess is that there has been an issue with employees claiming they are "sick", "don't feel well *cough*", "have a headache", etc. who never seek medical treatment and are fine the next day or a few hours later. I suspect the real problem is that there are a few managers who send employees home for a hangnail rather than determine who is fit to work and who really needs to go home. It seems the higher ups have decided the best way to deal with this, right or wrong, is to only permit employees to leave mid shift if they do so in order to seek medical treatment. Employees with the flu or other more serious ailment would not be reporting for work anyway or should be sent home prior to starting their shift. You are talking about a small subset of employees who first become ill in the middle of their shift, and an even smaller number who would become so ill that they would need to seek medical care.

      Many businesses have re-evaluated keeping OTC meds on hand for liability reasons. The merits of such a policy are up for debate but there is nothing illegal about not providing Tylenol and basic meds onsite, nor is it unusual to have such a policy.
      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by groundedram View Post
        Is there anything that I can do to where im not the one taking the hit for what he told me to do?
        If anyting were to happen that prompted an OSHA investigation you should be fine. When violations are found and/or fines levied they are directed at the entity as a whole, i.e. the Inc. or the LLC etc. There have been some seriously aggregious instances where I have heard of specific individuals facing criminal charges but what you're describing is no where near what was going on in those situations.

        I would keep a little notebook and jot down these conversations and directives, in the event the worst happens and you are involved in an investigation you'll have some hard dates, times etc. to back up your story. It's quite common for Sr. Management/Executive officers to try to throw the floor level folks "under the bus" when these things happen. Never matters much in the end to OSHA as again they fine the organization.

        For example, there was an instance around here where the injured person was the Safety Officer for the Company he worked for. The OSHA investigation concluded that he himself and his actions were the cause of the accident. Failure to follow established procedure, failure to follow lock out etc. The "Company" in and of itself really did nothing wrong but trust this guy was doing his job. Guess who paid the high 5 figure fines. The company.

        As far as sick people working in a meat packing plant this is way out of my area of expertise. It would make sense to me that some types of illness you'd want no where near food handling.

        I'd search the OSHA site, FDA and State and Local Health Dept. sites as I'm sure there has to plenty of information floating around about this.

        As far as the OTC meds Elle pretty much summed it up. Up to the employer, we still provide these but many don't.
        "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate'' - Sir William of Ockham, a.k.a. Ockham's Razor

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        • #5
          Found this and gave it a skim, looks to have quite a bit of information and a good list of sources that may help you figure out your issue. Hopefully it helps.

          http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3108/osha3108.html
          "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate'' - Sir William of Ockham, a.k.a. Ockham's Razor

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          • #6
            And see, this is why I didn't answer this question in any depth.
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              Keep in mind that liability as far as OSHA or the FDA or Health Department are considered is quite different from your company holding you responsible for an injury or unsafe practice. We tracked injuries that occured by the supervisors for each area, which is quite common. Yes, the supervisors were held accountable for the number of injuries sustained by their employees to some extent. As a manager you aren't exempt from assigning duties or ensuring the safety of your workforce just because you can not send everyone home who gets a headache.

              Now is the time to ask what the ccompany's expectations are in the admittedly rare event that you have an employee who is objectively too sick to work, yet refuses to seek medical treatment. Or, what happens when an employee is dismissed from work but fails to actually go to the doctor. Light duty? Sent home but can not use sick leave? etc.
              I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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              • #8
                Good points. I was only addressing your liability as it relates to outside regulatory agencies. The internal runnings of the business are a completely seperate issue.
                "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate'' - Sir William of Ockham, a.k.a. Ockham's Razor

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