Employers are required by federal law to provide and maintain a safe and healthy work environment. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), created under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, oversees the compliance of workplace safety. OSHA deals with work-related injuries and with the potential for workplace hazards. Their goal is to prevent employers from taking advantage of employees. They also aim to provide workers with the means to deal with their employer if they have a safety concern or after an injury on the job.
Understanding Employees’ Rights
Before attempting to deal with a potential OSHA violation, employees should understand their rights under OSHA. The following are three general concepts that should help clarify an employee’s entitlement to health and safety at their workplace:
- Work conditions. An employer cannot require someone to put themselves in a dangerous situation without proper training and equipment. That means that if an employee’s job is to clear a building of hazardous materials, the employer must ensure that everyone working the site receives adequate training and that they have the appropriate equipment, such as face masks and body gear, that is needed to complete their work safely.
- Reporting issues and requesting information. An employee has the right to report a potential issue or a work-related injury to OSHA in confidentiality. Employers are not allowed to prevent an employee from filing a complaint or requesting an inspection of their workplace. Under certain circumstances, employers are required to maintain records for work-related injuries and illnesses at their workplace. Employees have the right to request copies of this information, and an employer may not withhold it upon request.
- Whistleblower protection. OSHA strives to grant the above protections without fear of reprisal. An employer may not retaliate against an employee who has reported them to OSHA. If an employer violates this right by firing, reprimanding or taking any other action against the employee, the employee may file an additional complaint against the employer.
Reporting an Issue
OSHA is available via phone, fax, mail, and the internet. Employees should inform OSHA of their concerns as they occur to ensure that they will take action against the employer. OSHA can only issue citations for employer infractions that are existing or less than six months old. Whether an employee reports a potential hazard or a work-related injury, the report may be made directly or through an authorized representative.
Consider Seeking Legal Help
While the actual process of filing a complaint against an employer may be simple, many complications can occur along the way. Among other concerns, questions about an employee’s right to leave their workplace due to a work-related injury, and questions regarding further violations of an employee’s rights can get complicated. It can be difficult for employees to deal with these issues on their own. Consulting an attorney can help clarify some of these issues. Call us at 678-888-4878 , or contact Hasner Law online for a free consultation regarding any OSHA-related workplace safety concern in Atlanta.