Right to a Safe Work Environment
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Right to a Safe Work Environment
The Occupational Safety and Health Act states that every working American has the right to a safe and healthy work environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency created to enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Who Is Covered by OSHA?
All private sector employees and employees of the post office are covered by OSHA under the federal OSHA program or an OSHA program operated by the state. Public sector employees are only covered in states that have adopted a state OSHA program and are not covered under the federal OSHA program. Federal employees are not covered by OSHA, but rather are covered by a presidential executive order that requires federal agencies to maintain a health and safety program that meets the same standards as the private sector. The main difference is that federal agencies cannot be fined for violating the health or safety standards.
Can States Have their Own OSHA Program?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act authorizes states to implement their own safety and health programs with OSHA approval. State OSHA programs must be at the very least as effective as the federal OSHA program and must provide similar protections for workers.
What Rights Are Granted under OSHA?
OSHA requires employers to provide a workplace that is free of recognized dangers and hazards. Generally, employees have the right to:
- Get training from the employer as required by OSHA standards
- Request information from the employer about OSHA standards, worker injuries, job hazards, and workers rights
- Request that the employer correct hazardous conditions or OSHA violations
- File written complaints with OSHA about violations of OSHA regulations or serious hazardous conditions
- Be involved in the OSHA inspection of the workplace
- Find out results of the OSHA inspection
What Are the Worker's Responsibilities?
OSHA requires workers to comply with all health and safety standards that apply to their job, including:
- Reading the OSHA posters
- Following the employer's health and safety rules and safe work practices
- Utilizing all required gear and equipment
- Reporting hazardous conditions to the employer
- Reporting hazardous conditions that the employer does not correct to OSHA
What Are the Employer's Responsibilities?
OSHA requires that employers provide a safe and healthy workplace free of recognized hazards. The most important requirements include:
- Providing properly maintained tools and equipment
- A warning system, such as codes or labels, to warn employees of potential hazards or hazardous chemicals
- Posting the OSHA poster in a prominent location
- Keeping records of work related injuries or illnesses
- Constant examinations of workplace conditions to ensure compliance with OSHA regulations
Can an Employee Be Fired for Complaining about Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions?
A worker cannot be fired, transferred, denied a raise, or be punished in any way because he exercised his rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. An employer who does any of these acts may face a lawsuit for discrimination or retaliation. Contact an attorney immediately because discrimination and retaliation complaints must be filed immediately, usually within 30 days of the incident.
Should You Hire a Lawyer Who Specializes In OSHA Law?
If you are an employee fired for complaining about unsafe or hostile working conditions, an employment law attorney can help you investigate the reasons for the termination, can gather the appropriate documentation, and can ensure that all of the complex procedures and filing deadlines have been met. OSHA regulations are a very detailed, complex set of rules and restrictions.
If you are an employer, a labor attorney can help you develop and implement a safety policy that complies with all OSHA requirements for your industry. A labor attorney can also help you fight lawsuit by OSHA alleging unsafe and hazardous working conditions.
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Last Modified: 06-24-2014 04:46 PM PDT
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