Health & Safety Laws All Businesses Must Follow

By Randy Clayton on Jan 24, 2023
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When people think about workplaces with the highest health and safety risks, industries like manufacturing, construction and transportation usually top the list. If the measure includes nonfatal injuries and illnesses, however, health care, hospitality and education are counted as “high-risk” industries. 

The fact is that every workplace has health and safety risks. So, fostering a safe and healthy workplace should be paramount for every business. 

Federal and state health and safety regulations exist to keep employees, contract workers and worksite visitors safe from harm. Nearly all private employers are subject to these laws, which aim to eliminate workplace accidents and illnesses. 

Businesses should regularly assess their own worksites for risks, provide employee safety awareness training and encourage employees or visitors to report workplace safety hazards. A clearly communicated reporting system will ensure that employees feel comfortable speaking up and know how to report concerns. If a health or safety risk is reported, management should take quick action to provide feedback and a resolution. 

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Federal Health and Safety Regulations 

The main statute protecting workers’ health and safety is the Occupational and Safety Health Act. Overseen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the legislation requires companies to provide their employees with work and workplaces free from hazards. 

OSHA enforces the law through inspections and investigations. Businesses are required to report fatalities and certain other injuries directly to OSHA. Employees have a right to file confidential safety and health complaints and request OSHA inspections – without fear of retaliation – if they believe their employers are not following OSHA standards or if a serious hazard is not being addressed. 

OSHA agents have the authority to investigate reported violations and to issue citations for noncompliance, which may subject a company to monetary fines. 

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Workplace Safety Laws in Kansas and Missouri 

Beyond federal regulations, states often have their own health and safety laws. Both Kansas and Missouri require: 

  • Smoke-free workplaces.  

With limited exceptions, the Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act prohibits smoking in all places of employment. Employers must post signs stating that smoking is against the law. Businesses also must adopt and maintain written policies that forbid workplace smoking. 

Missouri’s Indoor Clean Air Act also prohibits smoking in workplaces. It does, however, allow an employer to designate a smoking area. The area must be properly separated through ventilation systems and physical barriers and may take up no more than 30% of the workplace. Employers must post appropriate signage. 

RELATED: Employees Who Smoke Cost Employers Big >>

  • Weapons restrictions.  

Under Kansas’ Personal and Family Protection Act, employers can prohibit employees from carrying concealed firearms at the worksite or while working offsite. Any employer that elects to restrict workers from carrying concealed weapons must post clearly visible signage that notifies employees of the constraint. In Kansas, employees may keep weapons in their vehicles on the employer’s property while at work. 

Missouri law allows employers to prohibit employees who hold concealed carry permits from carrying concealed weapons on the company’s property or in any company-owned vehicles. Unless the worksite is closed to the public, the employer must post signs stating that no one may carry a concealed weapon on the property. 

  • Safe driving.

Kansas also has a safe driving law that Missouri does not have. That law bans all drivers from texting while driving and allows motorists to talk on a mobile phone while driving only if they are age 18 or older. 

RELATED: Why Health & Safety Practices in the Workplace Matter >>

Risk Assessments 

Axcet HR Solutions can conduct a thorough risk assessment to help a small business identify potential hazards from both safety and regulatory standpoints and then work with the business to correct them. To learn more, contact Axcet's risk management team today.

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Written by Randy Clayton

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