The legal environment for Enhanced 911 (E911) laws is complex in the United States because municipalities and states have different laws in place. There are no overriding federal laws or policies, which in turn makes it challenging to interpret legal requirements.
When organizations fail to provide E911 protection to their employees they could get large fines, not to mention be exposed to damages from civil and criminal litigation, according to a RedSky white paper, “Assessing E911 Liability Risk.”
There are 17 states with E911 laws: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. The laws regulate each state regarding E911 services for multi-line telephone service and PBXs.
In addition, businesses should remember that they may have different locations with each state having different E911 legislation.
“Excluding one location from E911 protection while protecting other locations might be considered discriminatory by a judge or jury in a civil liability trial,” Nick Maier, senior vice president of RedSky (News - Alert) Technologies warned, writing on TMCnet. “Even knowing about the regulations, but not implementing appropriate measures can leave an enterprise vulnerable to liability.”
This is an important issue. One estimate says that over 50 million Americans work in relevant offices that are not protected with Enhanced 911 calling capabilities, the white paper said.
Businesses need to interpret the laws in each state where they have facilities, the white paper adds.
Furthermore, the white paper explains that businesses that have facilities in more than one state – whether they have or don’t have E911 legislation – need to consider such questions as:
• Do they need to install E911 for the entire company or just in the states where laws were enacted?
• What risks exist if all employees are not treated the same (when facilities are in states with and without relevant laws)?
• Should compliance be standardized in all facilities even if requirements by state are different?
• Should there be strict compliance because a relevant federal regulation could be mandated?
Also, some states require enterprise or residential MLTS operators to make sure when someone calls 911 on a system; automatic number identification (ANI) and automatic location identification (ALI) are provided to the public safety answering point (PSAP), according to Maier.
In addition to state laws, the U.S. Occupational and Safety Administration (OSHA) says employers are liable if there was an “intentional disregard of a statutory requirement,” according to Maier.
Needless to say, there should definitely be an emergency action plan in place, Maier added.
OSHA can issue citations to employers if they do not have protective devices or proper procedures. Fines between $7,000 and $70,000 a day can be ordered for failing to comply with OSHA rules, RedSky said.
In a related matter, RedSky provides an E911 Risk Assessment that is based on workforce mobility and infrastructure, facility complexity and work environment.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo