·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


How Legality Works in the Workplace

— September 1, 2022

In addition to regulating the construction industry, the EPA is also concerned with agriculture, automotive, electric utilities, and transportation among others.

Since the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911 that took the lives of 146 employees, workplace abuse has become a criminal offense. The factory managers locked the doors to keep workers inside, never considering that inside is precisely where the danger could be. Safety regulations are now in effect at the federal, state, and local level to protect people at work. These rules are ultimately enforced by several nationwide agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Food and Drug Administration. The types of laws that affect your company can vary widely depending on your industry.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Safety is a major concern in the workplace. OSHA is the federal agency that establishes standards for safe work environments. As a child of the Department of Labor, the requirements of OSHA must be obeyed. Whistleblowers, or those who inform the government of employee mistreatment, are protected by law from retribution. In the event of an injury resulting in overnight hospitalization, amputation, or ocular loss, a report must be made to OSHA within 24 hours; if a life is lost, OSHA must learn in eight.

Being aware of common workplace risks can help a business take the necessary precautions to avoid preventable accidents and potentially expensive litigation. Ladder safety is taught, for example, to thwart the common physical hazard at work of falling from heights. Other instruction from trained professionals can teach the risks of electrical hazards such as shocks or burns from powered equipment and biological hazards such as infection from contact with blood-borne pathogens.

Environmental Protection Agency

Whereas OSHA was created from one piece of legislation intended for workplace welfare, the EPA is responsible for setting standards based on multiple legislative decisions. How is the workplace impacted by the bevy of laws the EPA must execute?

Say a childcare center is having an explosion in enrollment. Management wants to build a new wing to care for all the new children. However, before the new contractors ever enter the building, they must follow protocols from the Clean Air Act. One branch of this act prevents human and environmental exposure to asbestos, an archaic building material with fibers that become respiratory health hazards when they are loose. Therefore any expectations for renovation must first be reviewed for security by the state government, because the risk asbestos poses to someone’s permanent health is too great.

In addition to regulating the construction industry, the EPA is also concerned with agriculture, automotive, electric utilities, and transportation among others.

Food and Drug Administration

McKinsey Consulted for the FDA, Purdue at the Same Time
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Food and Drug Administration law is likely the most far-reaching administrative rulebook for the workplace. Without the FDA, we would not have sanitary standards for the foodstuffs and medicines we use every day. The bevy of food farmers, manufacturers, and retailers implies that the FDA has a large influence on not just employee safety but also customer safety. If tainted food is given to unsuspecting individuals, the economic cost of such an accident would be devastating. Awareness and accountability can save the lives of your most valuable resource, consumers.

The FDA, OSHA, and the EPA can sometimes overlap in obligations to workplace safety. Complying with all standards required by federal, state, and local governments doesn’t just save lives but also saves expenses. The costs of healthcare and accident care are enormous. Following regulatory protocols can make the difference between a super-high insurance premium and a moderate, affordable rate. Utilizing all employees’ input as far as safety concerns can make for a resilient workforce. A more resilient workforce means longevity and credibility for your business.

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