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Workers’ Safety and Health

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Employers have an obligation to provide a safe work environment for their employees. Those that don’t will pay a heavy price. Their workers’ compensation and other liability insurance costs will rise, workers may sue, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may impose heavy fines.

In 2012, workplace fatalities declined to 4,383, but in the private sector, construction deaths increased over the previous year, according to the DOL. The most hazardous occupations were construction, transportation, fishing, agriculture and forestry.

The threats to worker safety come on many fronts: domestic violence carried into the workplace, drug use, hazardous materials and terrorism. Note: In 2011, OSHA has issued its first en­­force­­ment instructions regarding incidents of workplace violence. Officials will use the directive to decide whether allegations of workplace violence warrant an investigation. For em­­ployers, it details methods they can use to minimize the possibility of workplace violence. Read more about the rules at

Increasingly, employers are facing a tougher web of workplace regulations and must coordinate activities with more federal, state and local agencies. Also, workplace safety frequently intersects with other issues, such as disability discrimination, privacy rights, retaliation and homeland security.

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