Employee Rights Under OSHA
The creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1970 provided workers the right to a safe and healthful work environment. A safe and healthful workplace means all hazards are removed. If hazards cannot be removed completely, protection must be provided to the employees. Some examples of a safe and healthful workplace include:
- Fall protection and training is provided and required when working at high levels on a construction site.
- Machines and equipment with rotating and moving parts are guarded.
- Trenches are inspected and have protective systems in place.
- Proper confined space entry procedures are practiced.
- Noise levels are controlled. When noise levels are too high, workers are given hearing tests and provided training and hearing protection.
- Protection from chemical hazards is provided, including an evaluation of chemicals used, a written program including a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), worker protection such as gloves, and information and training.
Since OSHA’s creation, workers have many new rights related to safety and health. Some OSHA standards which have been issued since then, such as the Hazard Communication or Right to Know standard, provide additional rights. For example, employers are required to post the OSHA Job Safety and Health – It’s the Law poster in the workplace. This poster outlines some employee rights including:
- You have the right to notify your employer or OSHA about workplace hazards. You may ask OSHA to keep your name confidential.
- You have the right to request an OSHA inspection if you believe that there are unsafe and unhealthful conditions in your workplace. You or your representative may participate in that inspection.
- You can file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of retaliation or discrimination by your employer for making safety and health complaints for exercising your rights under the OSH Act.
- You have a right to see OSHA citation issued to your employer. Your employer must post the citations at or near the place of the alleged violation.
- Your employer must correct workplace hazards by the date indicated on the citation and must certify that these hazards have been reduced or eliminated.
- You have the right to copies of your medical records and records of your exposures to toxic and harmful substances or conditions.
To download a pdf of the OSHA Job Safety and Health – It’s the Law poster, click here.
To learn more about worker rights, click here’s: http://www.osha.gov/workers.html