COVID-19 Notice: Block O'Toole & Murphy is fully operational in accordance with safety regulations provided by the CDC and local health officials.
Our attorneys continue to provide quality legal representation and are available to discuss your case over the phone, email, or video. Read more from our managing partners.
Block O'Toole & Murphy Block
& Murphy
Premier NY Personal Injury Lawyers

Jobs More Important Than Workplace Safety in Some Cases

construction electrician.jpg

The recent chemical spill that made the drinking water supply unsafe for hundreds of thousands of people in West Virginia illustrates a fundamental challenge when trying to prevent workplace accidents: People don't wish to report workplace safety violations because they are afraid of losing their jobs.

For example, the storage tank that leaked in the most recent spill in the region had not been inspected in five years. However, no one complained. Why? The president of a citizens group that formed after a 2008 fire and explosion killed workers at a Bayer CropScience plant, "We are so desperate for jobs in West Virginia, we don't want to do anything that pushes industry out."

Companies under the scrutiny of the U.S. Department of Labor or OSHA have a favorite tactic when faced with possible penalties for their indifference to worker safety: They threaten to leave. This often turns local workers and citizens from advocates of improved health and safety to very quiet people who don't wish to rock the boat for fear that their livelihoods will disappear.

People in such situations don't want even the rules and regulations that do exist - and in West Virginia there aren't that many - to be enforced for fear that they will lose their jobs. The existence of a job trumps environmental and workplace safety.

This economic anxiety, says Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, forces people into voting against their own best interests and for whatever industry wants. According to Reich, this keeps workers poor and willing to accept unsafe working conditions.

Fortunately, New York City and the State of New York have stronger workplace safety regulations, higher wages and stronger unions. Although these things reduce the possibility of a workplace catastrophe such as the recent chemical spill in West Virginia, there is still no guarantee that it can't happen here. That's why it is so important for workers who see unsafe conditions to report them - they are both protecting themselves and their fellow-workers.

Source: SFGate, "Job insecurity keeps workers quiet about health risks," Jan. 24, 2014.

Speak with a Qualified New York Injury Lawyer Today

Fill out our short online contact form for a FREE, immediate case review, or call us locally at 212-736-5300 today. The lawyers in our firm work on a contingency basis, so we do not collect any money unless we win your case.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Firm Awards and Honors

These are some of the publications and organizations that have recognized our firm and individual attorneys for excellence.

Learn More
Block O'Toole & Murphy - Listed in Best Lawyers - Linking Lawyers and Clients Worldwide Best Lawyers - Best Law Firms - U.S. News The National Trial Lawyers - Top 100 Trial Lawyers Super Lawyers Million Dollar Advocates Forum Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum Irish Legal 100 Martindale-Hubbell - Peer Rated For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability New York Magazine - Top Verdicts & Settlements New York Law Journal - NAACP Frances Pope Memorial Foundation - Love. Support. Hope. St. John's University - School of Law St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Expertise - Best Workers Compensation Attorneys New York City 2020
Call Block O'Toole & Murphy Today For Help - 212-736-5300

What can we help you find?