01 Nov Your Rights as an Employee under OSHA
It was in recognition of the fact that workplaces can be dangerous, depending on the particular industry and the kinds of activities that the workers do that the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed and implemented in the states. Apart from outlining the benefits that should accrue to those workers who suffer accidents, it also takes a proactive approach by stipulating preventive measures and giving workers certain rights to better protect themselves.
The Act stipulates that all workers must be given a sufficient amount of safety training in a language that they understand. Furthermore, your employer has the responsibility to ensure that the machines you work on have all safety measures implemented to reduce the incidence of preventable accidents. In workplaces where toxic chemicals are used or produced, your employer has a responsibility to implement adequate protective measures.
As a worker, you are entitled to be provided with such safety gear as is necessary for the work you will be carrying out. This could include such things as helmets, gloves, protective clothing, harnesses or lifelines to prevent falls. You should keep in mind that the safety gear are not tied to your position, but rather to the work you will be carrying out at a particular time. This means that if you are shifted to another task, you have the right to ask for safety gear necessary to do it safely.
Access to Records
Accountability is a major focus of OSHA, and in line with that, employees have the right to access a variety of records that have to do with the safety of the workplace in general and other personal records.
You are entitled to copies of your medical records whenever you have cause to be examined or treated by a doctor working for your employer. This way, you can have the reports examined by a doctor of your own choosing to spot any developing medical conditions.
You can see copies of the workplace injury and illness log that all employers are required to maintain, and you can also get copies of test results done by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to find hazards in the workplace.
Request for Inspection
If you are worried about anything safety-related in your workplace, you can contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to request for an inspection of the area. Your name will be withheld from any communication with your employer. After an inspection team is sent, you can talk to them to express your concerns.
Protection from Retaliation
The Act makes it expressly clear that it is illegal for your employer to fire, demote, transfer or otherwise retaliate against a worker for exercising any of their rights under OSHA. If you believe an attempt is being made to infringe on your rights, an experienced attorney will be able to walk you through the process of filing a whistleblower complaint. That will make sure your rights stay protected, but could also get you compensation for any harm you’ve suffered due to the retaliation.