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Reduce Your Liability in an Unsafe Workplace

As any Nevada business owner and employee know, the workplace environment can be dangerous. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes the standards and oversees health and safety laws throughout the nation. OSHA also furnishes training and education for businesses. In Nevada, the state, like 24 other states, operates its own OSHA approved health and safety programs. But while business owners are ultimately responsible for ensuring the workplace is safe and healthy, it is as important for both business owners and employees to be proactive in maintaining safety and negating hazardous situations. To ensure you are physically and legally protected, institute a few common practices.

Assess job hazards: Far too often we see but don’t notice. Business owners and employees must take a critical eye to every physical aspect of the business to determine if it poses a health or safety hazard to employees, agents, and/or customers. Initially, and then periodically, conduct a full analysis of the business’ physical property, including buildings, outdoor areas, and equipment. For each department, review job processes and get feedback from employees on any health or safety concerns. It is very important that not only is each job process analyzed with the employee(s) who perform(s) the task, but that business owners create an environment where employees feel comfortable in giving feedback. The latter is truly valuable in revealing unknown hazards with equipment and/or procedures, or pointing out dangerous or potentially dangerous situations.

Assess risk: Every Nevada business owner needs to determine their potential risk for every unsafe or potentially unsafe situation versus the cost to eliminate these unsafe or potentially unsafe situations. While the ideal work environment is 100% free of unsafe or dangerous conditions, this is unrealistic for any business owner. However, ignoring unsafe or potential unsafe conditions which can be eliminated or reduced with a reasonable cost and care can increase the liability of the business owner.

Establish a Written Policy: Every Nevada business owner should establish a written policy to govern employees’ actions to report health and safety concerns and the company’s process for handling a report. The policy should identify the person who ultimately oversees the company’s health and safety system and the chain of command in making a report. Each business should establish a set of disciplinary rules that fairly punish anyone who fails to comply with the company’s health and safety standards. The policy should also detail how emergencies and disasters should be handled. For fire and natural disasters a business owner should conduct period drills.

A business’ health and safety policy should be included in the employee handbook, and each employee should give their employer a signed acknowledgement the policy and any updates have been received and read. Safety and health warnings and rules should also be posted throughout the work environment.

Educate and Make Aware: In addition to periodic drills, posted safety and health warnings, and the employee handbook, business owners should keep abreast of current and updated federal and state OSHA laws and disseminate new information on a timely basis to their workers. Business owners should also keep abreast of and make sure their employees are aware of any local or seasonal dangers.

The commentary is for educational and commentary purposes only. If you or someone you know has been injured or feel there are illegal practices occurring at your work and would like to be represented by a Nevada attorney, contact our office for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours. Call Toll Free 866-414-0400.