Workplace safety regulations in South Carolina and around the country are clear. If the workplace contains inhalable toxins or other harmful vapors, then the employer must provide functioning respiratory protection. Any failure on their part to keep the air clean and the breathing passages of their employees safe is a violation of OSHA regulations. Unfortunately, a large number of workplaces nationwide fail to observe these laws sufficiently, and thousands of employees pay the price.
In 2012, 110 people lost their lives because of work-related respiratory ailments, and more than 15,000 incidents serious enough to require the loss of a day of work were reported. OSHA believes that these numbers could be reduced if all workplaces had adequate respiratory protection.
Simply procuring the equipment is not enough. Respirators are delicate pieces of precision equipment, and they require regular maintenance and upkeep. A respirator that has not been properly cared for will not function properly.
All employers have responsibility to provide a safe working environment, free of hazards when possible and furnished with adequate safeguards when it is not. Any failure of companies to protect the health of their employees may leave them financially responsible when an employee is injured or develops an occupational illness. While workers’ compensation is normally associated with workplace injuries, benefits can also be available for occupational diseases or illnesses. In some cases, an attorney may suggest that an employee forgo those benefits and instead bring a civil lawsuit against the employer if if can be demonstrated that the injury or illness was due to the employer’s willful disregard of safety regulations.
Source: Safety and Health, “Trends in … respiratory protection”, Tracy Haas, Feb. 21, 2016