Workplace Safety Laws & Regulations

Instructor: Lucinda Stanley

Lucinda has taught business and information technology and has a PhD in Education.

This lesson provides a general overview of workplace safety laws and regulations that protect employees against physical and financial loss, including laws administered by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

What's an HR Manager To Do?

Jackson has been hired as the human resource manager at Manfred's Manufacturing. He has heard there are more than 180 federal laws administered by the Department of Labor and that there are more administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration related to protecting workers, job seekers, retirees, and others' physical and financial safety. He knows there are also laws and regulations specific to each state. He's a little overwhelmed with this responsibility. Let's take a look at some of the major laws that relate to workplace safety, both physical and financial, to see if we can make sense of them for him.

Physical Safety

First, Jackson thinks about the physical safety of the employees at Manfred's. Who is in charge of safety? What restrictions might there be? Here's what he found out: Businesses are required to make sure their employees are physically safe. This means the work environment must be safe, and the machinery or equipment they work with must be safe. All of this is covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA (the administration) conducts regular inspections of workplaces and ensures that workplaces are free from known hazards. OSHA (the act) also specifies that if an employee reports a safety violation, they are protected from retaliation, meaning they can't lose their job or be harassed by the employer. Jackson remembers hearing this referred to as whistleblowers protection. Jackson can expect to get a visit from an OSHA representative if Manfred's isn't diligent in making sure their employees aren't kept safe.

Financial Safety

Next, Jackson thinks about how Manfred's is supposed to ensure employees financial safety. After all, employees aren't just concerned with their physical safety, they want to make sure their finances are safe as well. Let's take a look at some laws, many of which are administered by the Department of Labor, that cover all employees and that Jackson needs to know about:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA): This is a biggie! This is where we get the laws that govern wages, including minimum wage, and overtime pay. It also stipulates whether, and how long children under the age of 16 can work. Some of that actually relates back to physical safety.
  • Workers Compensation: Provides compensation and medical care for any employee hurt on the job. Even if an employee does not have health insurance, or they have health insurance not provided by the employer, the employer is still responsible for covering medical expenses and ensuring the employee is not hurt financially by an injury at work. Jackson needs to be aware of the workers compensation requirement in his state and what that state has to say about applying workers compensation.
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA): This act covers employees whose employees offer retirement or pension plans. If Manfred's Manufacturing provides a retirement plan, they are required to report how the plan is being administered. This protects employees so that they do not wind up with no money when they finally retire.
  • Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act: This one addresses the concerns of unions and their members. It regulates how a union can be formed and what happens if a unionized business cannot come to terms on a contract both management and employees can agree on. Manfred's Manufacturing has a union contract with the welders so Jackson needs to read up on this.

As a human resource manager, Jackson needs to make sure employees' money is safe or he might wind up with massive turnover, which means people will quit and he'll end up spending all his time hiring and training new people.

Specific Populations

There are a lot of laws that are designed to protect specific populations, and while many of these laws and regulations won't apply to Manfred's Manufacturing, Jackson should know about them just in case..

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