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Can Workers Sue Employers for Especially Dangerous Conditions at Work?

Some jobs are inherently dangerous. Firefighting, heavy construction, and police work are just a few examples of high-risk professions. Employers in these professions take steps to mitigate the dangers their employees face. Beyond the clear importance of protecting their valued employees from harm, employers also want to avoid the expense of an injured employee (in terms of lost time, insurance, disability accommodations, and so on) and the potential regulatory and media attention that can come from serious accidents. But at what point can employees sue employers for dangerous conditions at work? State and federal safety laws and regulations provide broad guidelines for workplace safety. Enforced by the federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Administrations (OSHA), these rules cover most types of high-risk conditions at work. Specific rules address things like workplace air quality, use of ladders, design and use of heavy equipment, and electrical work. In addition to specific rules, state and federal laws also feature what is called the “general duty clause.” This clause requires employers to provide workplaces that are “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” 29 U.S.C. § 654(a)(1), NRS 618.375(1). The primary means of addressing workplace safety concerns is to submit a complaint to the Nevada Department of Business and Industry. If the agency determines that a complaint has merit it will arrange for an inspection of the workplace. Findings from the inspection will be reported to the employer, which has a certain amount of time to resolve the dangerous conditions. If the employer fails to adequately address the problem the agency may take enforcement action against the employer to ensure that noncompliant conditions are resolved. It’s important to note that employees can’t sue to enforce OSHA rules on their own. Instead, workers who file OSHA complaints or who refuse to work in unreasonably dangerous conditions are protected against retaliation by their employers. If an employer fires an employee under such circumstances it may be liable in a lawsuit for wrongful termination. An employee considering these steps should consult with an attorney to craft a sound strategy. What about workers who are injured at work by unaddressed safety conditions? Even in these situations a worker’s ability to sue the employer may be limited. Workplace injuries are covered by Nevada’s workers’ compensation system, which has two critical features for this analysis. First, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that the worker’s injuries are covered without consideration for who or what is responsible for the injury. Second, an employer that purchases workers’ compensation insurance ordinarily cannot be sued for personal injury unless the employer deliberately caused the injury or doesn’t carry enough insurance to cover the kinds of risks that its employees face. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area with workplace injuries. If you are concerned about dangerous conditions at your job and you’d like to understand how your legal rights may be affected by taking action to resolve them, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

New Nevada OSHA Rules for Safety Training in the Entertainment Industry

New Nevada OSHA Rules for Safety Training in the Entertainment Industry
Starting on January 1, 2018, the Las Vegas live entertainment industry must comply with new health and safety rules. Nevada Assembly Bill 190, signed into law in May, amends the state’s occupational health and safety (OSHA) laws to reduce the likelihood of accidents at shows or during rehearsals.

AB 190 requires special training courses for certain entertainment employees

New training requirements are at the heart of AB 190. From January 1, covered employees are required to complete a 10-hour (OSHA-10) or 30-hour (OSHA-30) training course, with the longer course required for supervisory employees. Employees must complete the appropriate course within 15 days of hire. The courses provide training on general industry safety rules. They are developed by the U.S. Department of Labor and administered in Nevada by the Safety Consultation and Training Section (SCATS) within the Division of Industrial Relations. SCATS will be offering courses for free in the early part of 2018. AB 190 only applies to certain employees involved in the live entertainment industry. Specifically, it captures workers whose primary occupation on site involves the construction, installation, maintenance, operation, repair, or removal of:
  • Theatrical scenery, rigging, or props;
  • Wardrobe, hair, or makeup;
  • Audio, camera, projection, video, or lighting equipment; or
  • Any other items or parts which are related to or components of the above items, and which are used in conjunction with the presentation or production of:
    1. Live entertainment;
    2. Filmmaking or photography;
    3. Television programs;
    4. Sporting events; or
    5. Theatrical performances.
Employers and workers should note that the rule doesn’t require unpaid workers, like volunteers or interns, to undergo training.

Ongoing compliance requirements

After completing the required course, employees will receive a completion card issued by the Division of Industrial Relations. The card is good for five years, after which the employee needs to take a refresher course or meeting the law’s continuing education requirements: at least 5 hours of training for OSHA-10 employees and at least 15 hours for OSHA-30 employees. AB 190 requires employers to suspend or terminate any covered employee who fails to complete the required training within 15 days of hire. Employers who fail to follow this rule are subject to fines. As a proud member of the Las Vegas community, the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby  Martinez is glad to know that workers in the live entertainment industry will be safer in 2018. If you have questions about Nevada’s OSHA requirements, our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. Reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our site.

Implications of the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Act for Employers

Implications of the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Act for Employers
Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Act (Nevada OSHA), NRS 618 et seq., is an important source of protections for workers in our state. To avoid serious legal consequences for noncompliance, Nevada employers need to understand how the law affects their obligations.

Relationship to federal OSHA

Nevada OSHA is a federally approved variant of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C. 15 et seq. The federal law was designed to create a uniform safety standard across the country, and as such it preempts state laws. However, states are allowed to adopt their own standards with federal approval, provided that the state rules are at least as strict as the federal mandate.

Features of Nevada OSHA

Nevada OSHA varies from the federal OSHA law in important ways. In addition to specific rules regarding especially dangerous activities, such as the use of cranes or explosives, or working with dangerous materials like asbestos, the Nevada law has a number of rules that most employers need to keep in mind.
  • Scope. Nevada OSHA applies to workplaces in the state in the private sector as well as state and local government employers, with exceptions for federal government employers, private sector employees at military facilities, and workers on Indian tribal lands, among others. NRS 618.095.
  • Safety programs. Nevada OSHA requires employers with 11 or more employees, or who manufacture explosives, to develop and implement a written workplace safety program. NAC 618,538, NAC 618.540, and NAC 618.542. Such programs are composed of policies, procedures, and practices designed to create safe and healthy working conditions. State regulations have specific requirements of what needs to be in a plan, such as who is responsible for implementing it, how the employer analyzes and responds to hazardous conditions, approaches to training, and accident procedures. The Division of Industrial Relations Safety Consultation and Training Section (SCATS) has prepared a useful guide for developing safety programs that comply with state standards.
  • Hazard communication. If an employee is exposed to toxic or harmful materials in amounts that exceed applicable standards, the employer is required to promptly notify the employee of the exposure and any corrective actions the employer is taking. NRS 618.380.
  • Special industry rules. Many state OSHA laws impose additional requirements on specific industries. Every employer needs to determine if special rules apply to them. An example in Nevada is a new set of requirements for safety training in the entertainment industry. The requirements, which will go into effect on January 1, 2018, will require certain entertainment employees and managers to undergo OSHA safety trainings of 10 or 30 hours, depending on their role.
  • Enforcement. Nevada OSHA is administered by the Nevada Department of Business and Industry.
GGRM has a long and distinguished record of helping workers recover compensation for injuries suffered on the job. Compliance with Nevada OSHA is an important part of avoid serious workplace accidents and their long-lasting consequences. We would be happy to talk with you about your OSHA questions. To speak with an attorney, give us a call at 702-388-4476 or get in touch with us through our website.

Important Changes to Accident Reporting Requirements for Nevada Employers

Recent changes to accident reporting laws add important new obligations for Nevada employers when an employee gets seriously hurt on the job. When an employee is critically injured or killed in an accident, it can be easy to forget statutory reporting requirements amidst the flurry of insurance paperwork, potential need to cooperate with law enforcement, and concerns for the wellbeing of the affected employees and their families. But employers need to remember that a report must be filed with the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations very quickly following a major accident to ensure that state inspectors have access to fresh evidence and information.

New accident reporting deadlines and scope

Assembly Bill 24 went into effect on October 1, 2017, amending the reporting rules set out in NRS 618.378 to bring Nevada into line with federal rules. The new rules retain the long-standing obligation of an employer to report an accident involving an employee fatality within 8 hours of learning of the accident. But Assembly Bill 24 changed the reporting deadline and scope of reportable non-fatal accidents. Unlike the old rule, which only required reports for accidents involving three or more employees, the new law requires employers to report a serious accident involving even one employee. Reportable injuries include anything requiring the employee’s inpatient hospitalization, amputation of part of an employee’s body, or the loss of an eye. Employers must report all such accidents to the Division of Industrial Relations within 24 hours after first learning of the accident. Although the change from the old 8-hour deadline for reporting non-fatal accidents is a welcome reprieve for employers, it still leaves little time for compliance.

What goes into an accident report

An accident report to the Division of Industrial Relations needs to specify the name of the employer, the location and time of the accident, the number and names of employees with reportable injuries, a brief description of the accident, and the name of a contact at the employer. The Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration is instructing employers to report accidents by phone. After the report is filed, the law provides that an inspector from the Division of Industrial Relations will inspect the scene of the accident within 8 hours. For decades, GGRM has been helping members of the Las Vegas community work through the challenges associated with workplace injuries. We are here to help workers who are injured protect their rights and get the care they deserve. If you or a love one has been injured on the job, we’d like to help. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, give us a call at 702-388-4476 or visit our website.