Researching Workplace Safety Law
Workplace safety law is governed by both state and federal laws. Depending on the specific issue you are facing, you may need to research Maryland state law, federal law, or both.
In Maryland, the official source of the state statutes is the Annotated Code of Maryland. All Maryland law libraries and many Maryland public libraries (see SAILOR, Maryland's Online Public Information Network sponsored by Maryland public libraries) carry the Annotated Code of Maryland in print. For your convenience, this guide provides links to Maryland's statutes in a free web database maintained by the Maryland legislature. The links are to the first section of the title. Keep in mind, however, that the print version may be more useful in your research because it provides summaries of and citations to cases that have interpreted each statute. The free web version does not give summaries of case law.
Citations to selected Maryland workplace safety law statutes:
- MD Code Labor & Employment Article, Title 1: Definitions; General Provisions
- MD Code Labor & Employment Article, Title 5: Occupational Safety & Health
- MD Code Labor & Employment Article, Title 5.5: Railroad Safety & Health
- MD Code Labor & Employment Article, Title 9: Workers Compensation
The official source for the federal statutes is the United States Code. All Maryland law libraries and many Maryland public libraries carry the United States Code in print. Many of the same libraries also carry one of the unofficial print versions, the United States Code Annotated and the United States Code Service. You should research the federal statutes in one of these unofficial print versions of the Code first, because they are both more up-to-date than the official Code, and because they include summaries of cases that interpret each statute. However, below are quick links to some important federal workplace safety statutes that you might want to look up in print:
- The Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. §§ 901-945
- The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7384-7385
- The Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219
- The Federal Employees' Compensation Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 7902, 8101-8103, 8105-8107, 8110, 8114-8124, 8126, 8128-8135, 8138, 8145-8149
- The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, 30 U.S.C. §§ 801-962
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. §§ 901-950
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 651-678
The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation's Division of Labor and Industry regulates workplace safety in Maryland. The Department's regulations are published officially in Title 9, Subtitle 12 of COMAR (the Code of Maryland Regulations). The print version of COMAR is available in all Maryland law libraries and many Maryland public libraries. The Department's regulations are also available electronically on the Division of State Documents home page.
The Maryland Workers Compensation Commission regulates compensation and insurance for workplace injuries. The Commission's regulations are published officially in Title 14, Subtitle 9 of COMAR.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") regulates general workplace safety. OSHA's regulations are published officially in Title 29 of the CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations). The print version of the CFR is available in all Maryland law libraries and many Maryland public libraries. OSHA's regulations are also available electronically on its web site.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration ("MSHA") regulates mine worker safety. MSHA's regulations are published officially in Title 30 of the CFR. They are also available electronically on the Government Printing Office web site.
Other federal workplace safety regulations can be found in Title 20 CFR (various worker compensation programs).
Resources for Additional Help
The resources below may help you understand employment law. Keep in mind, however, that books explaining the law are no substitute for the law itself. You should always verify what the authors of these books say about the law by looking up the statutes, cases, and regulations the books cite. Some of these books may also include sample forms.
- Fundamentals of Employment Law / Karen E. Ford, Kerry E. Notestine, Richard N. Hill, editors. 2nd ed. Chicago, Ill.: ABA Tort and Insurance Practice, 2000.
- Maryland Employment Law / Stanley Mazaroff. 2nd ed. Charlottesville, Va.: LEXIS Publishing, c2001-.
- Maryland Employment Law: Forms and Practice Manual/ Carla N. Murphy. Brooklandville, Md : Data Trace Pub. Co., 2006.
- Maryland Workers' Compensation Handbook / Richard P. Gilbert, Robert L. Humphreys, Jr. 3rd ed. Newark, N.J.: LexisNexis, c2007.
- Your Rights in the Workplace / Barbara Kate Repa. 10th ed. Berkeley, Calif.: Nolo, 2010.
- The Employer's Legal Handbook / Fred S. Steingold. 10th ed. Berkeley, Calif.: Nolo, 2011.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Publications
There are several ways to begin researching workplace safety case law. One way is to find the statutes that apply to your situation in the Annotated Code of Maryland, the United States Code Annotated, or the United States Code Service then look at the case summaries following them. You can find additional cases by reading books explaining the law and noting the cases they cite. Another method of finding cases is to search the Maryland Digest, a subject index to Maryland case law, or the Federal Practice Digest, a subject index to federal case law. The Digests arrange case summaries by legal issue using the "topic and key number" system. Once you know the topic and key number combination for your issue, look up that topic and key number in the Digest and you will find a list of case summaries that discuss your issue. Each summary includes a citation to the full text of a case.