August 14, 2022

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Did you know that there are many health and safety laws in place to protect...

Did you know that there are many health and safety laws in place to protect employees while they are working? Texas employers are responsible for ensuring that their workers are aware of these laws and follow them accordingly. Employees should also familiarize themselves with these laws so they know their rights in the event of an accident or injury. In this article, some of the most important health and safety laws that employers and employees should be aware of are going to be discussed.

Hurt on the Job?

Health protection at work is important to ensure that employees are not exposed to hazardous working conditions. Employers have a legal obligation to maintain safe and healthy environments for their workers. So, if you’re hurt on the job in San Antonio, Texas, you may be able to file a work injury claim. Companies may be liable for injuries that occur on the job if they haven’t taken the necessary actions to protect their employees. For example, failing to provide proper training and equipment can lead to workplace accidents.

If you get hurt during your employment, even as a result of another employee’s actions, you should consult with a San Antonio work injury attorney. The laws will vary depending on the state where your business is located and you might be eligible to receive compensation for medical expenses, missed wages, and other costs.

Health and Safety Regulations

There are many legal requirements for employers that relate to health and safety. These may include:

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Safety Training

Employers may be required to provide safety and health training if their workers are exposed to hazardous materials, dangerous equipment, or work in a high-risk environment (such as working with asbestos, chemicals, or construction tools). This is intended to ensure that the employees know what the dangers are and how they can stay safe.

Medical Screening

Employers may be required to perform medical screenings that are job-related for employees who work near hazardous chemicals, possess heavy machinery or equipment, handle dangerous materials or work with asbestos. These tests are generally performed by a company’s health and safety officer. Also, if an accident occurs at work, the employer is obligated to provide medical treatment for the employee.

Masking Agents

The use of masking agents is prohibited in certain situations, including when there are hazardous chemicals or fumes present (such as paint). Employers who violate this law may be subject to fines and imprisonment. Also, workers should not remove protective equipment while working in areas with dangerous chemicals and fumes. This can be extremely dangerous and may lead to nerve or lung problems down the line.

Drinking-Water

Employers should provide drinkable potable water if their employees are exposed to hot weather conditions that may cause heat stress, which can lead to dehydration. In addition, drinking fountains should be readily accessible and clean enough to prevent the spread of germs.

First Aid

Employers are required to have adequate first aid, fire safety measures, and equipment in their workplaces. For example, they should have available bandages, disinfectants, burn creams/ointments, cold packs, adhesive tape, non-prescription painkillers (e.g., ibuprofen), and a stretcher if needed.

Safety Equipment

Employers are required to provide their workers with the necessary equipment at no cost, such as protective gear, shade, face masks, goggles, earmuffs, etc. They should also supply them with the proper tools for the job.

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Safe and Healthy Environment

Workers should always remain alert and aware of potential safety hazards in their workplaces. If you witness any violations, such as employees working without required gear or drinking from an unsafe water source, you should report it to your employer.

In addition, employers should provide their workers with a safe and healthy work environment. Those who don’t follow the necessary guidelines may be found negligent in the event of an injury or accident. This means following these health and safety guidelines:

  • Keep the workplace as clean as possible to prevent the spread of germs. For example, take out the trash regularly, wipe down surfaces that are frequently touched by many people (e.g., door handles, elevator buttons, desks), and ensure that cleaning products are safely stored.
  • Comply with the relevant health & safety laws to ensure worker protection. For example, if your company is located in a high-crime area, they should take necessary precautions to minimize the risks of robbery or theft. This may include installing security cameras, limiting access on certain days/times, and ensuring that the staff dresses conservatively.
  • Be aware of safety regulations (e.g., for operating machinery).
  • Follow the proper safety protocol when dealing with hazardous materials, like wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), keeping chemicals in their original labeled containers, etc. If in doubt, always ask your supervisor.
  • Ensure that all safety equipment and devices (e.g., alarms, sprinklers, extinguishers) are in working order at all times.
  • Post signs for emergency exits so employees know where to go in an emergency. Also, if there is a fire escape plan, make sure everyone follows it accordingly.
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Legal Precautions

Employers should always be aware of the relevant health and safety laws at all times. This will ensure protection against any prosecution if an accident does occur, as well as help them avoid legal action by their employees or visitors/customers. The following are examples of activities that may result in criminal charges:

  • Employing workers who do not have the legal right to work in your country (e.g., if they are here on a tourist visa).
  • Forcing employees to do work that is not permitted by immigration laws or human trafficking laws (i.e., with the latter, you force them to do anything illegal under threat of violence, harassment, etc.). 
  • Failing to provide proper safety equipment or clear instructions about risk hazards.
  • Employing children under the legal age of employment without special permission from the government (e.g., for dangerous work).

Some examples of workplace accidents that could result in civil charges are:

  • Using faulty or contaminated materials
  • Using heavy machinery without proper training or safety devices
  • Not taking into account that some employees are more vulnerable to injury (e.g., pregnant women, older people

Health and safety laws are in place to protect employees. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their workers are aware of these laws and follow them accordingly. Employees should also familiarize themselves with these laws so they know their rights in the event of an accident or injury. Only through proper education and training will workers be able to stay safe at work.