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Aspect of the law and engineering - Research Paper Example

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Worker’s Compensation: a legal issue faced by engineers “One has to look out for Engineers - they begin with sewing machines and end up with the atomic bomb (Pagnol)” An Engineer, like all other professionals, deals with a number of legal issues in his day-to-day work-life1…
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Aspect of the law and engineering
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Download file to see previous pages In civil engineering, there are frequent cases where injuries are borne by the employees (being the workers) due to industrial accidents and other such hazards related to the construction of various projects2. Prior to worker’s compensation, an employer was held to several narrowly defined duties of care for the protection of his employees (Mitchelle, 1976). The employers seldom received their due after having borne the injuries mainly because of the unfortunate prevalence of the doctrine of contributory negligence, the fellow-servant rule and voluntary assumption of the risk in the common law countries. In order to tackle this discriminatory issue of industrial liability in case of injured employees, the concept of Workmen’s Compensation was introduced. It is now popular in many countries namely the United States of America, Brazil, Germany, India, UK etc. In the United States of America, the Workmen’s Compensation laws are created differently by various states however the fundamentals of all the acts remain the same. There are a number of characteristic properties that are common in all the laws of Workmen’s Compensation – (a) automatic entitlement of the employer to compensation in case of personal injury borne due to an industrial accident (b) Employee’s contributory negligence or employer’s freedom from the fault does not lessen the former’s rights (c) Only employees are covered and not independent contractors (d) Cash benefits, Medical expenses etc. are provided and benefits for dependents are counted in case of death of the employee (however maximum and minimum are imposed) (e) the employee or his dependents forfeit the right to personally sue the employer for the loss (f) Right to sue third persons in case of negligence on their part prevails (subject to conditions) (g) administration is in the hands of administrative commissions (h) the employer is required to secure his liability through private insurance etc. so that the liability of compensation passes to the consumer in the price of the product (Larson, 1952). Initially a few problems were recognized in the U.S. regarding the Worker’s Compensation as apparently it disregarded the Fourteenth Amendment’s prohibition against taking of property without due process of law and deprived both parties of the freedom of contract. This problem was resolved by the New York Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1916 after the famous case of New York Central Railroad Company v White3. The specific laws which deal with construction safety hazards in the U.S. are administered by governing regulatory body called Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)4. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace to their employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 has defined certain responsibilities for the employers and also has defined penalties in case of violation of the duties5. In order to start a construction or even before entering a contract, an engineer has to keep in mind all the legal aspects of workmen’s compensation. Even though the Engineer may cover up his costs by ultimately shifting it to the customer in form of price of the product, he has to initially formalize the insurance for his employees. In case the engineer ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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