When buying real estate, health and safety issues are a major concern. Under Agency law that exists in Alabama, many agents prefer working with buyers of real estate as a Transaction Broker rather than a Single Agent in an attempt to lessen their liability. Without realizing it, they are actually increasing their liability but that’s a discussion for another day. In Alabama, the seller is not forced by law to disclose information to a potential buyer unless Health and Safety issues exist and then federal law trumps in and mandates all Health and Safety issues must be disclosed to any potential buyer. You can easily see how agents might quickly justify disclosing a particular issue claiming it to deal with one’s health or safety. Some of those claims will not hold up in a court of law and that could bring on additional problems for the agent and for the consumer.
Today I want to discuss some of the health and safety issues that have been confirmed and are accepted nationally as health and safety issues. Due to the difficulty of the rule-making process (which is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act), OSHA has focused on basic mechanical and chemical hazards rather than procedures. Major areas which its standards currently cover are: Toxic substances, harmful physical agents, electrical hazards, fall hazards, hazards associated with trenches and digging, hazardous waste, infectious disease, fire and explosion dangers, dangerous atmospheres, machine hazards, and confined spaces. Let’s look at them individually and define them so we can understand what they are.