What are employers' responsibilities in the workplace?

Most employers in Pennsylvania and throughout the country are required by law to make available a hazard-free workplace for their employees. This can be achieved when employers follow regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Employers must carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees as well, unless the company is legally exempt.

In complying with OSHA rules, employers must keep company equipment and tools in good working order and make sure employees understand how to correctly operate them through safety education and training. Moreover, adequate notification such as signage, posters and color-coding should be in place warning workers of possible risks. Where employees are exposed to harmful chemicals, employers are required to have a special training program in place showing how to correctly and safely handle these materials. Other training in the prevention of illnesses and injuries must also be implemented in the workplace.

In the event an employee has been injured while working, the employer must act immediately to provide the necessary medical treatment. When an employee becomes hospitalized due to a workplace injury, OSHA must be notified by the employer within 24 hours of the incident. Employers must also notify area OSHA officials no later than eight hours following a work-related death. Employers are obligated to keep a full report of any serious workplace accident or injury that causes an employee to miss work. A copy of this report must be given to the employer's insurance company and to the local workers' compensation office.

Anytime an employee suffers an on-the-job injury associated with repetitive stress, contact with a harmful chemical or an accident, for example, he or she has a right to file for workers' compensation benefits. Under workers' compensation, injured employees may be compensated for their medical expenses and receive a portion of their income that was lost while they were recovering and unable to work.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Employer Responsibilities", accessed on April 6, 2015

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