Working in an environment that is not ergonomically designed can lead to long-term health problems. Issues like carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, and strained muscles can take years to resolve and can require surgery. Nevada employers are not specifically mandated to provide ergonomic workplaces, but a combination of safety regulations and financial incentives gives them good reason to take ergonomics seriously.
OSHA and ergonomics in Nevada
The “general duty clause” of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the equivalent state law requires employers to provide a workplace that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm” to employees. 29 U.S.C. §654, NRS 618.375. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, which adjudicates disputes arising from enforcement of federal OSHA standards, has held that ergonomics problems can be a “recognized hazard.” Pepperidge Farm, Inc., 1997 OSHARC LEXIS 40 (No. 89-265, 1997).
Because bad ergonomics can lead to enforcement actions by state and federal OSHA agencies, employers have good reason to adopt policies to encourage healthy practices, provide ergonomics evaluations, and upgrade work spaces to reduce the risk of repetitive motion injuries. The state has adopted an instructive set of guidelines to improve workplace ergonomics for its own employees.
The cost of ergonomics-related injuries
Besides concerns about OSHA compliance, employers also have good financial reasons to improve the ergonomics of their workplaces. In addition to potentially losing productivity due to injuries, an employer may also face other kinds of costs, including:
- Higher workers’ compensation premiums. An employee who suffers an on-the-job injury that requires medical care is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. When workers make claims an employer’s insurance costs can go up.
- Disability law compliance. When an employee’s work-related injuries lead to temporary or total disability, an employer becomes responsible for providing the employee with reasonable accommodations that account for the disability. This might include offering the employee light duty, or moving the employee to another role. In addition to being expensive, these changes can be disruptive to the workplace.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents personal injury and workers’ compensation clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have suffered an injury at work that is ergonomics-related, our experienced attorneys are happy to help you understand your legal options. For a free attorney consultation, reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contacts page.