Employers in Nevada have been complementing their Drug Free Posters with No Smoking Notices, ever since voters in the state last November approved the so called Question 5, the Clean Indoor Air Act. The new law made it illegal to smoke in restaurants and bars in the state, as well as the slot machine rooms in grocery and convenience stores, the schools and day care centers of the state, and shopping malls in Nevada. The law does not include casinos, such as the billion dollar ones in Las Vegas.
Still, the no smoking law has had seemingly more affect on employers in the state than them just having to put up new No Smoking Notice posters. According to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, unemployment insurance claims from workers previously in the food and service industries have gone up by more than 50 percent—just in the first three months of 2007—as compared with the same time period in 2006. The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation made this announcement just this past Monday.
The director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, Terry Johnson, also noted that the service industry—especially so called full service restaurants—have seen their growth slow in those three months to 6.7 percent. That compares with the average yearly growth of 8.9 percent between 2003 and 2006.
Johnson went on to say that he attributes the declines in employment and growth to the no smoking law, as well as the new Nevada minimum wage that was passed in November as well. In other words, employers that once served food and had slot machines in their establishment might be choosing to stop serving food, keep the gambling, and thereby no longer need to follow the no smoking law. That leaves their former food servers without jobs. It will be interesting to see how this develops, and if this trend develops in other states with no smoking laws.
If you’re an employer in the state of Nevada, you must keep in touch with the changes in OSHA regulations and forms. In 2002, OSHA overhauled their record keeping system and changed their rules. Some of these changes were done in order to simplify or clarify the process. Some helped speed up the record-keeping or reporting of the injury or illness. Some forms have been made more flexible so that employers can maintain their data on computers.
I am sure that most employers appreciate the changes, even though it takes time to get used to a new system. There are new definitions for first aid and medical treatment. There is now only one set of criteria used to record both work-related injuries and work-related illnesses. Many other changes have been made to help both employers and employees understand the process of filing and record-keeping on these issues.
One concern with employee health protection is privacy. If there are sensitive injuries or illnesses like sexual assault or AIDS, the employer must not put the individual’s name on certain forms. Also, it is my understanding that they may leave out certain identifying information. That way the employee representatives only have facts about the accident or illness, but not about the person. As an employer, you also must be very careful to only release information to people who have access rights, or to remove identifying information before releasing it to others.
If an employee asks you for information about safety and health protection regulations, as far as I know you must present that information to them on the same day, or at the earliest time that is convenient. So, why not have all the information in one place? That way it will be at your fingertips.