Understanding E911 Laws and Reducing Corporate Risk and Liability

E911 Watch

Understanding E911 Laws and Reducing Corporate Risk and Liability

By Nick Maier, SVP  |  June 04, 2012

This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.

RedSky (News - Alert) recently hosted a Webinar that discussed current E911-related federal and state regulations and how to reduce corporate risk and liability. Our guest speaker was Martha Buyer, an attorney who heads a practice focused on telecom law with special emphasis on both regulatory matters and contract negotiation.

Interest in the subject was extremely high, as measured by webinar attendance and downloads from our website of the archived session. Here are some of the key points Ms. Buyer covered:

Municipalities and states have differing laws from agency to agency and state to state, but to date, no federal law or policy has been passed. Even without the presence of laws or regulations, however, employers can still have obligations to employees, contractors and guests who occupy their facilities.

The 17 states with E911 laws of which corporations must be aware include Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. These laws regulate E911 services as they apply to multi-line telephone service and PBXs.

Some states require enterprise and/or residential MLTS operators to ensure that when a user calls 911 on their system, automatic number identification and automatic location identification are provided to the public safety answering point.

In addition to state law, the Occupational and Safety Administration considers employers liable when there has been an “intentional disregard of a statutory requirement.” A working E911 system isn’t viewed as a statutory requirement, but creation of an emergency action plan is considered a conditional requirement.

OSHA can also issue citations to employers for failure to have protective devices or procedures in place. Daily fines of between $7,000 and $70,000 can be administered for non-compliance with OSHA rules and regulations and unfortunately, visitors, vendors and contractors are not covered by worker’s compensation; only employees.

It is important to consider all locations within the enterprise regardless of the presence of 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. Even knowing about the regulations, but not implementing appropriate measures can leave an enterprise vulnerable to liability. 

Nick Maier is senior vice president of RedSky Technologies (www.redskyE911.com).

Edited by Braden Becker