Maintaining a safe and healthy workplace has long been recognized as critical to the success of any business. When an employer makes workplace health and safety a top priority, it almost invariably leads to a happier and more productive workforce. Despite recognition by most employers that workplace safety is a priority, numerous laws and regulations have been enacted to ensure that employees can concentrate on their jobs without fear of injury.
These laws and regulations essentially obligate employers to reasonably protect their employees from work-related illness and injuries as well as workplace violence. Employers are required to follow regulations enacted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Additionally, employers are required to create Injury and Illness Prevention Programs that are individualized for their workplace. If or when employees do get hurt or become ill on the job, the Workers’ Compensation system provides a expeditious method for employees to get prompt treatment for their injuries so that they can return to work.
In addition to the various issues outlined in this section, smoking in the workplace has been recognized as a workplace safety issue. Therefore, in 1994, the California legislature banned the smoking of tobacco products in most enclosed places of employment in California. The law does not apply to private smoking lounges attached to tobacco retailers, tobacco shops, hotel rooms designated for smokers and designated areas in hotel lobbies; bars and other establishments that are owner-operated and have no employees; and warehouses exceeding 100,000 square feet that have fewer than 20 employees. Employers may also designate certain break rooms designated for the purpose of smoking under certain statutorily specified conditions.