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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.

What Does the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act Mean for Employers?

The Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act Expands Protections for Workers
Along with the rest of the country, the prevalence of tobacco smoking in Nevada has declined over the last couple of decades. One contributor to the decline has been the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act (NCIAA), NRS 202.2483, which went into effect at the end of 2006 and regulates smoking in places of employment.

The NCIAA limits smoking in many venues

The NCIAA’s goal is to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. It prohibits smoking in a wide range of places, including:
  • Public and private school buildings and on public and private school grounds.
  • Childcare facilities.
  • All areas of grocery stores, convenience stores, and drug stores.
  • All indoor areas within restaurants, including those in casinos or gaming establishments.
  • Shopping malls and retail establishments.
  • Video arcades.
  • Government buildings and public places.
  • Movie theaters.

Where smoking is allowed

Although the NCIAA’s restrictions are broad, the law allows smoking in a range of specific situations. These include:
  • Outdoor areas at restaurants.
  • Completely enclosed areas of bars that do not admit patrons under 21 years of age.
  • Strip clubs and brothels.
  • Retail tobacco stores.
  • Private residences, even if they are used as workplaces, but not if they are used as a childcare, adult day care, or health care facility.
  • Tobacco trade shows..
  • Gaming areas in casinos where loitering by minors is restricted by law.

Employer compliance with the NCIAA

Unless an employer’s workplace falls into one of the specific categories where smoking is allowed, the employer must take steps to prohibit smoking there. These are the required steps:
  • Post conspicuous “No Smoking” signs at all entrances.
  • Keep smoking-related items like ash trays out of areas where smoking is prohibited.
  • Inform anyone who is smoking that smoking is not allowed.
Failure to comply with these requirements is a misdemeanor and can result in a citation as well as a civil penalty of $100 per violation. NRS 202.2492 and 202.24925. Employers should also keep in mind that the NCIAA prohibits retaliation against employees, applicants, or customers who exercise their rights under the law, for example by reporting a violation to state or local enforcement authorities.

GGRM can help

GGRM has represented Las Vegas employers and workers for decades, and is dedicated to helping our community stay healthy and safe. If you have questions about how the NCIAA affects you or your business, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476, or visit our website, to schedule an attorney consultation.