Did you know OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) was put into effect in 1970 to help employees be safe?
It’s no surprise that they take employee safety very seriously. After all, this is why this Act was enacted.
You’d be surprised to learn that employers don’t care about their employee’s safety. OSHA protects employees from employers who don’t mind risking their employee’s lives. Keep reading to learn more about OSHA employee rights and why employers have to observe these rights.
Why OSHA Employee Rights Must Be Observed
Employers have other people’s lives in their hands while they are under their watch, and therefore this should be taken seriously. Most employees have families they go back to when they leave work and head home. The last thing you want is to be responsible for someone’s life because proper safety precautions were not observed.
There are many ways for employers to stay in compliance and for employees to know whether employers are following the rules or not. As an employer looking into things such as getting an OSHA safety certification is a great way to stay up to date and have a refresh on what is safe and what isn’t.
When You First Begin Working
When you first begin working your employer has to tell you where your medical and exposure records are kept. Every year your employer has to tell you of this location or if the locations for records changes, they have to let you know.
If you ever request your records for any reason, an employer has 15 working days from when you put your request in to give them to you.
Keep in mind that if your employer at any time plans on closing their doors and are going out of business, you have to be notified. Your employer would have to let you know that you have the right to access your records minimum 3 months before shutting down their business.
You will want to ask your employer for information on safety and health hazards in your place of employment. If there are any chemicals that employees use during work, you want to ask for information on the precautions they took per OSHA’s standards to ensure everyone is safe. This includes any tests an employer has done to measure chemical levels.
You want to ask your employer what steps you should take in case something were to happen. In case you or a fellow coworker are exposed to hazardous chemicals, you want to know what to do.
Employers have training that is a requirement per OSHA’s standards to help their employees. Depending on the type of job you perform, you always have the right to information on protecting yourself from any harm.
If there are any chemical containers at your place of employment, your employer must label each container. They have to make safety data sheets with any hazard information clearly written on the sheets.
Any health effects the chemicals you’re working with must be clearly stated during your training and any precautions on the best way to protect yourself while working with each individual chemical.
If you ever feel that your life or your coworker’s lives are put at risk you can file a formal complaint with OSHA. You can put in a request to have OSHA perform an inspection in your workplace.
Make sure to only do this if you feel that there are serious workplace hazards where you are working. Or if you feel that there are serious violations of OSHA’s standards.
You can file your complaint by calling in, online, or writing a formal letter. You also have the right to not have your name exposed. If you don’t want your employer to know it was you that filed the complaint you can ask OSHA in your written complains to please keep your name confidential.
After the complaint is filed, OSHA will send out a representative to perform the inspection. You can be part of the inspection if you choose to be. Or if your job has an authorized representative, they can accompany the OSHA compliance officer during the inspection.
Once the complete inspection is over, you have the right to know about their decision. If OSHA decides to not issue a citation to your employer, you have the right to request a review on their decision.
If there are any health hazards, a special hygienist might perform a separate special OSHA health inspection. This is where an inspector might take samples to measure the levels of hazardous materials used and any other chemicals.
OSHA will tell the representative right then, and there is the employer in compliance or not. The same inspector will also gather information about what your employer has in place to control health hazards. Any results for the tests they conducted will also be in the final reports.
Don’t Ever Forget: You Have the Right to Safety
As you can see from the above information, OSHA employee rights have to be followed. Every employee has the right to safety while they are working. As an employee, do not forget your rights. If you feel that your life or your coworker’s lives are at risk contact OSHA immediately.
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