What Is Maryland Doing to Improve Workplace Safety?

On August 9, 2021, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the death of a 64-year-old man who perished in an industrial accident in Edgewood. Although no foul play is suspected in the accident, the case highlights the importance of workplace safety in Maryland. Across America, occupational safety is an urgent concern. With an average annual work injury rate of 7 million based on statistics from the National Safety Council, this figure is still expected to rise. Maryland recognizes that safety measures are vital in ensuring the well-being of its workers. Although total fatal work injuries dropped to 78 in 2019 from 97 in 2018, the state still needs to do a lot of work to improve workplace safety.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standard Compliance

Maryland is a ‘state plan’ state, mandated by the federal OSHA to implement a state regulatory program. It has adopted OSHA’s safety and health standards as a reference but added conditions for confined spaces, hazard communication, and crane operators that are stricter than federal rules. Specifically, the Maryland State Plan has authority over all public and private workplaces except federal employees, private sector maritime activities, and military bases.
For example, if you are visiting a construction site and suffer from injuries, you can retain the services of a personal injury lawyer to file for compensation. It must be proven that negligence on the part of the company caused the accident. A worker who is hurt while performing their duties will be eligible for a workers’ compensation claim. Note that Maryland is a ‘contributory negligence jurisdiction.’ Hence, if a judge or jury finds that you are at fault, even only at 1%, you will not be able to recover claims.

COVID-19 Workplace Law

Maryland, Virginia, and New York have enacted a COVID-19 workplace safety law or HB581, otherwise known as the Maryland Essential Workers’ Protections Act (EWPA). It took effect on October 1, 2021, imposing specific workplace requirements on employers during a health emergency. It will apply during the current pandemic, but only if Maryland declares a state of emergency.
The law emphasizes safe working conditions to reduce transmission at the workplace. It also provides leave. Affected sectors include healthcare, emergency services, education, food and agriculture, energy, transportation and logistics, water and wastewater systems, and pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturers. Therefore, employers must provide safe working conditions, offer safety equipment at no cost to employees, follow safety standards protocols, allow public health emergency paid leave, and report all positive test results to the state’s Department of Health.
Maryland is doing its best to comply with federal and state workplace safety regulations. In the meantime, employees and employers are advised to take the necessary precautions to reduce accidents and injuries.
Getting the right equipment and PPEs, such as drum fans, hard hats, and safety boots, is an excellent place to start.

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