Health and Safety
Tristate Employment Health and Safety Attorney
How a Tristate Employment Health and Safety Attorney Can Help
Federal and state laws require employers to provide employees proper equipment and training and an environment that is reasonably safe and healthy given the jobs performed. But even employers who strive toward compliance face challenges. The number of regulations is dizzying, leading some employers to avoid developing good safety practices. And penalties for violating health and safety laws like OSHA can be severe. Employers may be liable in damages for some violations, and insurance premiums can rise with a history of safety violations.
Statutory requirements aside, keeping employees safe and healthy is a good business practice that can lead to a more reliable and productive work force.
How can an employer balance safety and health requirements with fiscal responsibility to the business and its employees? Working with counsel experienced in health and safety law issues can help keep your business on the right track and your employees productive.
OSHA and MSHA Safety, Inspection, and Reporting Mandates
Federal law requires all employers to provide a working environment that is safe and does not endanger its workers’ health. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) both enforce complex regulations on workplace safety, with MSHA focusing exclusively on mining operations.
Examples of areas of regulation include requiring personal protective equipment (PPE) in certain industries, restricting noise levels, and regulating exposure to coal dust. Employers must also remain up-to-date when regulations change and make workplace adjustments accordingly. For example, OSHA’s new silica regulation went into effect for the construction industry in 2017 and became effective in 2018 for all industries.
Employers must also be prepared for inspections. OSHA may give advance notice of inspections. Employers have the right to ask OSHA inspectors to obtain an inspection warrant before allowing them onto the jobsite, but upon such a refusal of access, inspectors are required to investigate the reason for the refusal.
In addition to requiring employers to maintain a safe workplace and provide and train employees with safety-related equipment, OSHA requires that employers with more than 10 employees report certain work-related injuries and illnesses. Employees must be trained and encouraged to report workplace incidents, accidents, and illnesses for an employer to comply with reporting requirements. OSHA requires employers to provide employees or their representatives access to reporting materials and to maintain logs of worksite illnesses and injuries. In addition to complying with the statute, this also promotes a culture of safety and open reporting.
The Mine Safety and Health Desk Book contains a compilation of the safety statutes and regulations relevant to businesses in the mining industry. An experienced OSHA and MSHA attorney in WV, KY, and OH can break down safety, inspection, and reporting requirements for employers and assist in putting together a meaningful and workable safety plan and compliance with reporting.
How Employers Can Navigate HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act
Some non-labor or -safety laws also affect employers. As it relates to employers, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provides certain protections for workers and their families regarding health insurance and provides for security and privacy of employees’ personal health information. Employers who have an employee taking medical leave as a result of accident or illness may ask the employee to provide proof of the injury or illness. But what if the employee asserts his or her privacy rights under HIPAA?
Employers may also be unsure of their responsibilities in ensuring that an employee can continue his or her health insurance after employment is terminated or when an employee experiences a life event such as marriage or the birth of a child. Consultation with a HIPAA attorney can resolve questions and avoid disputes and penalties.
Employers also need to be well-versed in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA requires employers of a certain size to provide health insurance to 95 percent of its full-time employees and file corresponding reports with the Internal Revenue Service. Employers need solid resources for tracking changes to and remaining compliant with the ACA.
For questions about how your business can remain compliant with laws and regulations governing employee safety and health in the workplace, consult a tristate employment health and safety attorney at Jenkins Fenstermaker by completing the online contact form or by calling (304) 523-2100 in the greater Huntington area or (866) 617-4736 toll-free.