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Employer Responsibilities for Air Quality

Air pollution at work can cause serious health problems, and can aggravate conditions like asthma. For employers, maintaining good air quality in the workplace helps to keep employees healthy and safe, and improves productivity.

OSHA and indoor air quality

The general duty clause of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA Act) requires employers to keep their workplaces free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” to their employees. 29 U.S.C. 654. Although the regulations under the OSHA Act and Nevada’s own OSHA law, NRS 618 et seq., do not address indoor air quality in general, specific standards have been adopted, including:

In addition to the specific standards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides nonbinding guidance for employers who operate commercial and institutional buildings.

For employees working in places that do not fall within one of the specific standards, the OSHA Act’s general duty clause offers an umbrella protection against inadequate ventilation or other unhealthy air quality problems. For example, a restaurant that fails to maintain adequate vent hoods and exposes its workers to constant oven smoke might be violating OSHA standards, among other things.

The Safety Consultation and Training Section (SCATS) of the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations offers air quality evaluations by qualified industrial hygienists in the Las Vegas area.

Smoking and the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act

The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act, NRS 202.2483, regulates where smoking of tobacco is permitted in places of employment. The law prohibits smoking in most publicly accessible businesses, including indoor areas at restaurants, shops, schools, and government buildings. It also requires employers to post “No Smoking” signs and take steps to stop prohibited smoking. The Clean Indoor Air Act permits smoking in casinos, outdoor areas of restaurants, and other venues, so while it limits employee exposure to tobacco smoke to a large degree, it leaves many Las Vegas employees exposed to second-hand smoke.

Smoking marijuana in public is still illegal

Public consumption of marijuana, the recreational use of which has been legal in Nevada since January 2017, continues to be illegal. Unlike the Clean Indoor Air Act’s exceptions for tobacco smoking, Nevada’s recreational marijuana law makes no exceptions. Smoking marijuana in a public place, which is defined simply as “an area to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted regardless of age,” is a misdemeanor. NRS 453D.030(17), NRS 453D.400(2).

GGRM helps Las Vegas workers protect their rights

Workers who are concerned that their employers are not taking adequate care to prevent air quality problems have a range of options for addressing the problem. State and federal agencies provide complaint mechanisms, and in some situations a workers’ compensation claim or even a personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez works with employees in the Las Vegas area to get compensation for injuries caused by problems like bad workplace air quality. For a free consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our site.