Orthopaedic Surgery/Occupational Injury
As individuals in a modern society we leave the protection of our homes, and travel to our jobs to engage in a collective enterprise which serves the dual purpose of fulfilling our own needs for an income and the needs of our employer for an income and the needs of society for the product or service that our efforts contribute toward. It is a reasonable bargain in most cases and thus we leave the safety and comfort of our homes willingly, though at times not happily, but in any case with every expectation of returning to the safety and comfort of our homes at the end of the day essentially intact.
Occupational safety is the shared interest of worker, employer and government. There is an inherent compromise that is struck between safety and productivity as these are inevitably in conflict. Ultimately however the loss of productivity associated with an injured of killed worker and the loss of a productive member of society makes worker safety our common goal even if we ignore all human compassion that would find no economic justification worth the price of a severely injured extremity of worker demise.
The provision for a safe working environment requires the linking of responsibility for an injury to the worker and the employer alike. It is reasonable to expect that a worker will engage in a given activity in a sensible fashion and with all faculties in place, and with a compliant attitude toward behaviorly linked safety measures that have been inculcated by the policies of the employer. Piece work driven industrial processes are most likely to amplify the risks to workers as they work harder and faster and with any shortcut they may perceive in order to maximize their gain for time expended.
Salaried employment with an expected benchmark quota will enforce a level of productivity which will be geared to a minimum standard which can be achieved by a worker.
The linkage of responsibility for injury to a worker to his employer is justified by the fact that the participation in the work setting is a proximate cause of the injury sustained and that factors in the work environment unrelated to the workers behavior result in the injury. Litigation becomes the default result of dispute over responsibility and threatens by virtue of the shear volume of litigation that could potentially result. As a consequence we evolve systems of regulation for worker safety that are intended to enforce an acceptable level of safety thereby minimizing the risks to an acceptable level and in any case precluding the possibility of economic gain through a disregard for worker safety through an enforced sanctioning of the enterprise by the responsible government agency. Secondly we have evolved a system of workers compensation whereby an agreed system of compensation which includes allowance for lost time, medical expenditure, impairment and vocational rehabilitation where necessary.