Safety in the Workplace Part 1: The Role of the EmployerThe workplace can be fraught with unseen hazards posed by any number of working conditions and materials. Employers are required by law to be proactive in identifying these potential hazards and to act with the best interest of their employees in mind at all times. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets forth clear and precise regulations regarding the responsibilities of employers in providing a safe work environment for their employees. It is the employer’s responsibility to find and correct any safety and health problems as well as to eliminate or lessen hazards in the workplace.

The OSHA strongly recommends that employers take effective and efficient measures to address problematic working conditions rather than relying on personal protective equipment (PPE) to mitigate a dangerous workplace situation. Thus, rather than requiring workers to wear masks while handling potentially harmful chemicals, the employers are urged to switch to using safer chemicals whenever possible.

It is also the responsibility of employers to inform their employees about potential workplace hazards through proper training, clear signs, color-coded labels, etc. Employers must provide safe and well-maintained tools that are appropriate for the tasks that the employees are to perform. Operating procedures, especially safety and health related issues, must be communicated to all employees in a clear and timely manner.

If employers receive a citation of violation from the OSHA, the law requires that they display this citation in a prominent area until the violation is corrected or for three working days, whichever is longer. Employers must keep accurate records of all workplace injuries and they cannot discriminate in any way against an employee who exercises his or her OSHA rights. Employees may be entitled to workers compensation claims if the employer fails to address health and safety concerns in the workplace.

In the final analysis, a non-hazardous work environment can only be good for business. Employees who know their working conditions are safe and their health is safeguarded by their employers are more likely to work harder and to invest themselves more fully in their jobs. This increases productivity and efficiency, which ultimately benefits the company in the long run. Maintaining a workplace that adheres to OSHA regulations is truly a win-win situation if there ever was one.

About the Author:

Beth C. writes on behalf of Ballard and Feagle, LLP an Atlanta law firm that specializes in personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice. Beth, also based in Atlanta, enjoys writing about a variety of topics, including labor law and property management.