OSHA and Your Rights as a Worker
Many of us spend the majority of our time at our jobs. Whether you work days, nights, or swing shifts, you likely spend more time at your work site than you do at home or even with your family. Your work environment has a tremendous influence on your health and wellbeing, and exposure to dangerous or toxic worksites could put your very life in danger. On-the-job accidents and workplace injuries result in serious disabilities and lost income for workers, as well as having impacts on these workers families and the people who love them. Regardless of the type of job you hold, it is important to understand your rights when it comes to working in a safe environment, as well as what to do if you feel those rights have been violated.
OSHA and Worker Rights
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is part of the United State Department of Labor. Established by the Occupation Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA works to ensure the safety and health of workers by providing and enforcing workplace safety standards and encouraging safe practices. Under federal law, all workers are entitled to a safe workplace, and their rights include the following:
- To work on safe machinery
- To be protected from toxic chemicals
- To be provided the required safety gear for their jobs, such as goggles, gloves, and harnesses
- To get results of testing done to identify workplace hazards
- To be trained in their jobs, and in a language they understand
- To receive medical care in the event of an injury
- To review records relating to injuries and illnesses at their workplace
In addition to the above, you have the right to speak with OSHA inspectors or to request an inspection be conducted if you think your worksite is unsafe or have concerns about safety practices on your job.
Making a Complaint and Protection Yourself Against Recrimination
If you believe you or your fellow employers are being exposed to hazards on your job, or if you suspect your employer is not following OSHA safety standards, you have the right to file a safety and health complaint with OSHA and request an inspection. You can make your complaint by telephone, fax, or online, and your information will be kept confidential from your employer. If you speak up against unsafe practices or conditions on your work site and your employer retaliates against you, you may be able to file a complaint for discrimination. There are 22 federal laws that provide protection for employees through the Whistleblower Protection Program, and these laws prohibit employers from taking adverse action against employees for reporting injuries, illnesses, and unsafe conditions. If you have been reprimanded, demoted, or fired for reporting unsafe conditions, you may be entitled to file a whistleblower complaint. You may also be entitled to compensation for any lost wages you suffered, as well as for any injuries you sustained due to unsafe workplace conditions.
Let Us Assist You Today
If you or someone you love has been injured on the job or has been exposed to toxins in the workplace, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm immediately. Our experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys can advise you on the benefits you may be entitled to receive that can help you recover from your injuries while continuing to provide for your family.