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Workplace Safety

There are various federal, state, and local rules and regulations that businesses are required to abide by. Federal guidelines for workplace safety and health are established and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers should be familiar with these guidelines, as well as the procedures for handling workers' compensation claims. FindLaw's section on Workplace Safety focuses on employee rights and employer obligations under OSHA, including an article that addresses some frequently asked questions for new businesses.

Employer Responsibility

There are certain federal rules and regulations when it comes to the health and safety of your workers. The governing body for workplace safety is OSHA, and many states have also adopted standards that are OSHA-approved. As a general rule, an employer is required to provide workers with a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause serious physical harm to them. The employer also has the responsibility to be familiar with and comply with the specific standards set forth by OSHA, and must inform employees of the OSHA health and safety standards that apply to their particular workplace. Finally, employers are not permitted to take any retaliatory or discriminatory action against an employee who makes an OSHA complaint.

Most employers (those with 11 or more employees) are required to keep records of occupational illnesses and injuries as they occur. However, this type of record keeping is not required for employers in most retail trade, insurance, finance, real estate, and service industries. Employers are also required to inform employees about the dangers of any chemical hazards in the workplace, and train employees to take the proper safeguards against the chemical hazards.

Employee Rights

Employees have certain rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970. The goal of this law is to implement health and safety programs and to reduce workplace hazards. For example, employees have the right to access relevant employee exposure and medical records and copies of relevant standards, rules, and regulations that apply to their workplace. Employees also have the right to request an OSHA area director to inspect their workplace if they believe that there are hazardous conditions or safety violations present.

OSHA Regulations Concerning Heat

Just one of the workplace hazards that OSHA is concerned about is heat-related injuries. This type of injury is more common among certain industries, such as construction and agriculture, but any employees exposed to long periods of heat can be at risk for heat-related injuries. Some examples of heat illnesses are heat stroke, heat rashes, or heat exhaustion. As an employer, there are actions you can take to reduce your employees' risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses. For example, as an employer you can provide training to your employees so that they know to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks.

Hiring an Employment Law Attorney

It's important that your business complies with the requirements set forth by OSHA and the rules surrounding workers' compensation claims. If you have questions or concerns about these topics, it's in your best interest to contact a local employment law attorney for guidance.