Employee Safety Law For Employers
As an employer, you have many responsibilities to manage, one of the most important of which is worker safety. If you fail in this undertaking, you could be held liable if an employee sues you for violating their right to a safe workplace. This article is a brief guide to the key laws and regulations every employer must know and follow.
The primary federal law regulating worker safety is the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which became law in 1970. The provisions of this law are administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly known as OSHA. The law mandates that employers follow certain standards so that workers are kept as safe as reasonably possible at their workplace.
Employers must ensure that the workplace is free of obvious hazards that could cause injury to employees. A hazard could be something such as equipment that is not working properly or a practice or technique used by an employee that is inherently dangerous. Any tools or equipment used by your employees must be functioning in a safe manner.
You must also post an official OSHA poster that informs workers about their rights under federal safety laws. You must keep good records on all workplace safety issues, such as worker injuries and illnesses as well.
Most private employees in the country are specifically covered by OSHA regulations, but OSHA allows some states to follow their own state plan. The state rules must be at least as strict as OSHA regulations. As of December 2022, 22 states have plans that have been approved by OSHA. As an employer, it's incumbent upon you to know whether your state follows the OSHA guidelines or has its own state plan. If your state has its own plan, you may have more safety responsibilities to your workers than under OSHA guidelines.
If any of your employees feel that a workplace safety issue is not being addressed, they have the right to file a complaint with OSHA. A crucial point to keep in mind is that you must not retaliate against a whistleblower in any way. If you do, you could be found in violation of the OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program. If you are found guilty of retaliation, you could be subject to various penalties. You do have the right, however, to appeal any negative decision.
Employment safety law is complex and there is always a danger that an employee could claim you violated a rule or regulation and seek damages in court or file a complaint. To learn more, contact anemployer defense attorney in your city.