In yet another win for state workers, Maryland lawmakers recently enacted a bill that would protect workers from one of the rising causes of workplace health and safety problems. According to the OHS Online blog, House Bill 722 was signed into law in May, and with it protections for workers against the ever-rising temperatures felt across the state. This, and the strength of the litigation environment within Maryland, means that workers continue to enjoy some of the best protections in the country – and some of the most progressive, too.
A legal protection
The reason these bills are allowed into law isn’t necessarily purely down to labor movement oriented lawmakers. There is a strong litigation environment in Maryland that has shown up time and time again for victims of poor employee H&S conditions, including wrongful death lawsuits. This has been evidenced by the good quality and quantity of workplace suits raised in recent years, including the notable ongoing case of Kyle Hancock, of Glen Burnie. According to The Baltimore Sun, this case, and others like it, are heading to court on the basis of a legislative environment that encourages equality. This means that more workers can hope to express their rights through the courts if not supported by in-work legislation, and expect results that are fair and even-handed.
Hand in hand with a strong litigation environment comes a legislative boon. The bill 722 has sought to nip in the bud the emerging issue of climate change related health and safety issues, such as workers overheating in conditions that would previously have been suitable. It also addresses issues for for home workers and office workers who also would previously have expected decent conditions for working. As more and more employees move into the home office, this is something that employers and legislators will need to be careful of and move towards in order to pre-empt issues before they can become utterly problematic.
The home working question
Marylanders are increasingly working from home, with CBC local highlighting the movement of workers in their droves back to the home office. This creates new workplace safety considerations that might not have featured highly in previous strategy plans. Elements like mental health awareness, home safety risks (employers cannot, after all, control fire safety with remote workers) and other associated risk profiles will start to become ever more relevant. It’s almost impossible for employers to totally control a home working environment in a way that’s fair to the employee, but with legislation in hand, there are steps they can take, chiefly through promoting good employee health and workforce management software. Using money saved on accommodation to improve employee safety is a great way to ensure their continued performance and happiness at home.
You can probably expect Maryland to legislate towards it. The state has shown a great amount of respect for the employee experience, reflected in the ways of working they seek to promote. By protecting employees now and in the future, a healthy situation can continue to be assured.