Overview: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates virtually every employer, which means that virtually every employer must comply with some provisions of OSHA in order to achieve acceptable levels of workplace health and safety. Safety in the workplace can seem like a challenging goal, but it is required by law.
One of the most important concepts employers must understand in the world of workplace safety is the General Duty Clause. While there are many regulations governing this topic, there is not a rule covering every possible workplace safety situation. Instead, OSHA enforces the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act, which requires an employer to provide a workplace free from recognized safety and health hazards. If an employer knows of an unsafe activity, behavior or situation then the employer is obligated to keep it out of the workplace in order to avoid workplace accidents.
Safety in the workplace has many components, but the Hazard Communication Standard deserves extra mention because it was recently overhauled. Through a series of rolling deadlines, OSHA changed their HazCom Standard to reflect the internationally recognized Globally Harmonized System for their labels and material safety data sheets (now referred to as safety data sheets).
Trends: Lately, distracted driving has been a growing concern for everyone; employers are not exceptions. Not only will employers who have drivers, meaning truckers, salespeople or anyone else who drives for work, have to ensure compliance with state laws, but under the General Duty Clause, they will need to be concerned with texting while driving. OSHA has recently increased their focus on this issue in an effort to cut down vehicular accidents in the workplace, and they will fine an employer who appears to be encouraging employees to text while driving.
Author: Ashley Shaw, JD, Legal Editor
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