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All Employers Have an Obligation to Keep Workers Safe

March 21, 2012
Colson Hicks Eidson

Yesterday’s blog focused on dangerous working conditions encountered by construction workers. However, workers in all occupations have the right to a safe work environment. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), 14 workers die every day in a fatal workplace accident. There are federal and state laws that ensure a safe workplace for all employees.

The majority of states have adopted a version of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA). The law keeps all workers safe by requiring employers to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious harm to employees. The law protects workers by requiring standards pertaining to fire protection, storage of toxic chemicals, exit plans, guardrails and scaffolding. It also requires a certain number of first aid kits in the workplace. The state OSHA programs must meet or exceed federal OSHA standards for workplace safety and health.

Unfortunately, many workers suffer injuries because their employers did not abide by set OSHA standards. For example, last September the federal OSHA office cited two Florida manufacturers of hair products for 16 health violations. The companies failed to protect their employees from hair products containing formaldehyde. Workers complained of itchy eyes, coughing, and nose irritation.

Is your employer doing enough to keep you safe in the workplace?