While supervising a class after lunch, one of the instructor’s students abruptly slammed the door to the classroom shut. As it just so happened, the instructor’s elbow was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Crushed between the door and the wall, the instructor’s elbow was instantly fractured from the sudden impact. To make matters worse, the buffer that usually cushions the contact between the door and the frame had been removed, meaning that the instructor’s elbow had been caught between a slab and a solid wall of metal.
With his elbow fractured and in tremendous pain, the instructor pleaded with the school’s teachers to take him to a hospital, only for them to refuse to do so. Instead, the school dismissed the injury as a bruise, put menthol on his elbow, and sent him back to work.
In too much pain to continue working, the instructor did the only thing he could do: he asked to be sent home. The school reluctantly agreed, but informed him that he would have to use his paid holidays to cover the time away from school.
After leaving school and travelling home by train, the instructor spent the rest of the afternoon calling local hospitals to see if they had time to treat him without an appointment. After eventually finding a hospital and getting looked at by a real doctor, the instructor ended up enduring subsequent x-rays, treatment, and physiotherapy for the next six months.
To add further insult to actual injury, it was later discovered that the instructor had no paid holidays remaining to cover his leave of absence and, as such, the Board of Education deducted two full days of salary from him instead.
The instructor actually joined the union to help win the extension of the 3 year contract limits at Osaka City. It was at this point he learnt that the entire workplace injury incident had been completely mishandled by the school and Board of Education. He learned that he should have been covered by the school’s mandatory “ROSAI HOKEN” – “Worker’s Accident Compensation Insurance”.
The union was able to take the issue up with the Osaka Board of Education and was able to resolve the issue. Imagine if the instructor had not been part of the GENERAL UNION: his right to ROSAI HOKEN would have been casually tossed aside, and there would have been little he could have done about it on his own. There are likely dozens of people who have a work-related injury, every day, who are not aware that ROSAI HOKEN even exists – let alone that they have a right to claim it.
Remember: Ignorance can be dangerous – sometimes fatal. Although laws and rights are difficult topics to study when you don’t even know that they exist – especially in a foreign country – those rights still exist, and are there for your protection, even when you don’t need them. Do not rely upon your employer, even a Board of Education, to do the right thing.
Have you or someone you know been involved in a work-related accident that you feel was mishandled by your place of work? Contact the GENERAL UNION at union(@)generalunion.org.
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